6 Reasons Why Pokemon Go Rocks


People are hating like crazy about Pokemon Go. I don’t really understand why everyone is so upset about a simple game. For those of you who are, let me explain why Pokemon Go rocks, and if you don’t understand that, you just don’t get it.

It all started a long time ago with a cartoon that launched with a card game. The whole concept of the show Pokemon was about a group of friends who traveled the world finding and catching Pokemon (pocket monsters). Long story short, the show and card game were a hit and eventually the video games followed. The bulk of the games were in the Nintendo DS platform. The games echoed the show by creating a world that you explored to find Pokemon. There you would join gyms, train, compete and advance. There were even special Pokemon that would come out on special days in particular places. Like if you went to Toys R’ Us or McDonald’s on a particular day and hour, you could download a monster for free and have it in your game. Suffice it to say, people loved this! Collectors still abound.

But the game was pretty much a sitting game. The Pokemon creators have always wanted to counteract this and have been pretty ingenious at it too. Before Pokemon Go, some games came with step counters that you connected to the games to get more stuff and others had them in the DS and if you walked around with it, you would gather coins. But again, it was very limited…

Lo and behold: Pokemon Go

In my opinion the game is genius! Now you actually go and catch the Pokemon in the real world and not the fake one of the DS. The games are the same, with gyms, teams, training and such. The integration of reality and gaming is done with the right purpose. Here’s a list of pluses for you short and simple, so I don’t bore you. (There may be a few cons, but those are usually when the people playing don’t have much common sense.)

  1. 13729124_10154490138127275_479978947022411561_n

    My son wearing a Tentacool for a hat. 

    It gets you walking. You can’t really catch anything while driving (it’s too fast) so you have to be on foot.

  2. Pokestops are in the real world. You have to get out of your house, off your ass, and out in the world in order to advance in the game.
  3. Pokestops include street art, restaurants, museums, and sights worth seeing. (Encourages cultural awareness and travel)
  4. You have to walk to hatch your eggs. Yes, even if it’s back and forth in your own living room, in order to hatch the egg, you gotta walk. So the game makes you exercise!!! (Back to point 1)
  5. Augmented reality fun! Yeah, you get to take pics with the Pokemon on your head and stuff.
  6. It creates a strange #PokemonBond among users.

So bravo to Niantic, The Pokemon Company, and John Hanke for a great concept. BTW (although the play is buggy, I play in my 4s which according to Niantic is not supported, so there.)

 

08/07/2015


Lo extraño

Lo extraño con dulzura

Veo su transformación y me sorprende

¡Qué rápido!

 

Ahora me mira diferente

Siento que hay algo de sabiduría

Cosas que puede ver

 

Y me aconseja

Me extiende la mano y no tengo que ñangotarme

Somos iguales

Al mismo nivel

 

Me enorgullece

Sé que será grande

Porque ya es grande

Sabe cosas, explora y crece

Es grande

Gigante

Me hizo crecer

 

Le doy la bienvenida

Esta nueva persona no es tan nueva

Sólo que ahora le caben más ideas

Es más fuerte

Pero sé que aún me necesita

Aquí estoy

Aquí estaré

Siempre

© 2015 Maricel Jiménez Peña

A Tip of the Hat to Surrogacy


Today begins a new stage in life for a special couple I hold dear to my heart. One of them is a friend from grade school (enough said). And today they became daddies thanks to surrogacy. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing their process through Facebook and well, what can I say, I’m impressed!

I think surrogacy is admirable. Pregnancy is not easy. Birth is not easy. Going through the whole nine month process for a baby that is not yours is the most selfless act a woman can do (save for putting her own baby up for adoption). And this particular woman did it with two babies! Yes! Twins!

Really, I am in awe of this woman. A twin pregnancy for somebody else! It’s amazing! Not to mention the physical risks she put herself through. Twins automatically complicate a pregnancy and usually ends in the OR with a C-section and I can tell you from experience, those hurt! Yeah! Natural birth hurts, but then it’s over and you keep going. The C-section hurts for weeks! Your stomach gets numb and the spinal anesthesia gives you horrible back pains! For months I could feel the spot where they injected it; a sharp piercing jab in between two vertebrae. It really takes about 3 months+ to heal well.

The majority of women go through this process rather by default because they want to be mothers. You want to be a mom so you go through the pregnancy, Dr.’s appointments, vitamins, stretch marks, etc. because it’s what needs to happen to get your baby. But in this case, this woman chooses to do this for a baby that is not her blood and she will not keep. People this is a big sacrifice; a humongous sacrifice. I tip my hat off to this woman. Because of her, two people are parents of two beautiful babies. She is a modern version of Atabeira. Bless her and all honest surrogates out there.

Why Tests Make Absolutely No Sense


Photo from Freepik.com

Photo from Freepik.com

I have been thinking a lot about tests lately; mainly school tests. The more I think about it the more I realize tests make absolutely no sense. You see, we are constantly testing our children, yet adults never really get tested out on the real world. Sure some careers require a final test in order to get a practicing license, but in the end, when you’re doing your job, nobody is testing you.

When I say test, I mean the kind of test where you have a limited amount of time to answer a set of questions and you have zero help from reference books or other people. WTF. Seriously, that has never been the case on any job. On the contrary, when you have a job, deadline or whatever from your job, you have plenty of time to get it done and as many references you need. The point is that you do the job well, rather than have to go back and correct things.

That does not seem to be the case with testing. Testing almost seems like it wants you to get answers wrong. You have very little time to answer questions and you don’t get to check your notes to corroborate your answers. That’s not how it goes down in the real world. Isn’t school supposed to prepare kids for the REAL world? I remember some teachers would write trick questions purposefully meant to confuse you into getting the wrong answer. Come on! It can be a challenge for some students, but the purpose is to learn, not to trick.

This type of test forces children to memorize things that they basically dump on the day of the test and later forget. That’s not real learning. And to top it all off, if you don’t do well on these very unrealistic exams, your life gets labeled forever! Poor poor kids who don’t do well on tests!

Then, after testing them an average of 15 times in only 1 semester, schools go and give the kids a FINAL EXAM! Another test, made up of all the other tests they took during the semester. But the worst part is that 1 hour of your child’s life will be worth 25 – 30% of their final grade. Seriously?! 1 hour of the semester is worth 25% of the grade?! Shit! Shouldn’t that be calculated on the basis of the total hours of work during the semester. It’s crazy! Why? Why? Why?

And what the hell are we testing anyway? Science has proven that tests in no way can predict future success in life, happiness, health, creativity, or adaptability. So what are we trying to do here? Why are we torturing our children with all these tests? The tests are not making them learn more, so what’s the point?

Kids Need a Voice in Publishing


I’ve been reading a lot about writing and publishing these days. I notice there are a lot of writers out there drowning in self-doubt and frustration and the common element I notice with these authors is what is generally known as the “publishing world”. Yes, we have all tried to understand and hopefully weasel our way into the “publishing world”. Most of us want our books published and we would rather get the marketing backup supplied by the “traditional” publishing methods. However, lately I wonder just how much “better” said method really is.

I started with the traditional method and eventually went the self-published route. I wrote, queried, got rejected, edited, re-queried, got rejected again, edited some more, got frustrated, almost drowned in the self-doubt and eventually churned my way out of the bucket of cream.

My book was not ready for publication back when I was querying and I probably needed to re-evaluate my agent query list and re-write the letters. Yes. I’m sure, they were not their best, but I don’t think my book would’ve gotten picked up anyway. Well, maybe eventually… but it felt like eventually would be in 20 years when I no longer cared to write stories like The Adventures of Pixie Piper.

Creating the agent list was frustrating. Most of them said they hated portals, fairies were too girly, etc.  I say, who are YOU to tell a child what they want to read? Which brings me to the whole point of this blog. The kids need a voice in publishing. So far, adults are telling them what to read. Adults decide what books might be interesting for children, and they decide what books get published. Well, adults can be wrong about kids. In fact, adults are often wrong about kids. What nobody reads Middle Grade? Isn’t that one of the key elements of these books: How adults don’t get the kids? Perhaps there is truth in that.

The initial reaction of kids when I show them the book is awe. Granted, that is all thanks to the beautiful cover. The second reaction: “I love fairies!” Their eyes sparkle and they smile and get all excited and that to me is the most satisfying feeling ever. They like it!

But if I hadn’t self-published they would not have this book at their disposal. The kids depend on a very long list of adults first liking the books they read before they actually even get printed. They have no say in what gets published. They can only pick from the shelf at the shop. How do we know they wouldn’t pick a different book if it was available?

So I invite you to ask  your kids what they would like to read about? Maybe they’ll surprise you.

Things That Inspire


My son lost a tooth yesterday. It had been wiggling for a while and yesterday it finally came loose. The new tooth was already coming out behind it. Now I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the Puerto Rican tooth fairy is actually a mouse. “El Ratón” to be precise.  The little “rajiero” comes at night and takes the tooth from underneath the pillow. Of course my 7-year old son has lots of questions: Why does he come take the tooth? Where does he keep the money? How does the mouse get money in the first place?

These are all very valid questions. And questions inspire the writer.

My mind works quickly. I only need a tiny seed like that to get the motor running. Of course, the original idea doesn’t produce a final book. It produces a concept that can be worked into a very good story with the right amount of work.

There is a sense of euphoria. I get all excited, because, you know what? I like my idea. I think it’s awesome. In seconds, there is a small world. Flashes of images… a character develops. What the heck is that mouse up to? Why in the world would he want to collect children’s teeth? What does he do with the teeth after he gets them?

This could well be an adventure or a horror story. Just think about it a little bit.

Yesterday, my son inspired me!

Nobody crawls anyway


Recently I read an article about a new book coming out called “Slow Parenting”. Slow parenting is about letting kids be and grow at their own pace. It’s about not rushing their developmental milestones and forgetting the timeline printed in books.

I discovered this on my own with my second child. He was a slow walker, talker, teether, potty trainer, detacher…

At first I was concerned. By 14 -15 months of not walking I found myself with 2 choices: a. Freak out, complain to the pediatrician, and start probing, testing, and pushing my kid… or b. Trust the process of Nature.

I chose “b”… and I’m glad. My reasoning was simple: Do you know any adults who don’t walk, unless they have some sort of physical impediment? The answer was “no”. Everybody learns to walk. Everybody learns to talk (meaning anybody who doesn’t have a condition to hinder this), everybody learns to eat on their own, and nobody crawls anyway.

Why do I mention crawling? Psychology books are filled with milestone timelines and other such stress inducing facts, that you should know, but sometimes ignore. One such timeline is crawling. According to some experts, crawling is supremely important in the process of development and it’s a MUST. Frankly I don’t get it. Why is it a must? Does anybody crawl anyway? No. Only babies crawl. Adults don’t crawl. And what’s more, I’m pretty sure, those adults who never crawled as babies are perfectly capable of crawling now. So what’s the big deal?

I say let your kids establish their timeline, let them crawl with a crooked leg, let them mispronounce that “r”, let them eat their boogers (gross I know). Unless there is something physically preventing them, they will learn to these things sooner or later. Let them and enjoy them. Do read the books, keep them around and refer to them when necessary. But don’t use them as a bible. Don’t fuzz if they’re not on target, if they are behind a month or two. Is your child happy? In the end, that is what’s most important.

They will grow up to be decent, capable people, if they grow up happy.

Complicated X4


That’s what my mother predicted. Yup. The Queen Mother had it right. Of course, she spoke from experience. She said a second child would complicate things, not x2, but x4. The laws of physics and logic do not apply here.

I thought she was exaggerating. You know mothers. We exaggerate to make a point… or maybe not. Confident and delusional, as any second mother usually is (at first), I ignored her. I wanted another one!

The second child is something completely unexpected, I think. See… you think you know everything about motherhood at this point. You’ve survived the first one. You’re ready (or not). “I got one already. It’s just more of the same. A little extra work.”  Ha ha! Yeah, but not quite.

No fights during a plane ride to Disney of course! Plenty of fights while there!

No fights during a plane ride to Disney of course! Plenty of fights while there!

That would be so if your children were completely isolated from each other and identical in personalities for the rest of their lives. They’re not! (Insert sarcastic smile here.)

Siblings spend more time with each other than they do with their parents. Have you ever seen toddlers playing? Sooner or later they get physical and tears ensue. When you have more than one kid, it’s not a play date. You’re not watching every move they make. Sooner or later a fight happens. (Envision a SIGH with closing eyes and really deep breath.)

“It’s not fair!” “That’s mine!” “Mom, tell him to stop.” “I hate my brother!” (This one makes me cry. Blah! I’m sure sooner or later I’ll get over this too, as it won’t be true forever and ever.) “ARRRRGGGHHHHH!”

“Eiiii!” (Whiney sound with a high pitch). “He took my toy!” “He won’t let me play!” “Mom, he’s singing caca songs about me!”

JUST BREATHE!

I wish it was that easy. The venting happens in all sorts of ways from calmly mitigating between the two, to locking myself in the bathroom for 20 minutes, to playing loud music and ignoring them. (I would love some suggestions!)

Eventually it passes. You find a way around the issue and it’s cool. Then, another one follows. More of the same, except it’s different. All the while you thought you could handle the second one just like the first and it turns out that’s not true. Second child won’t respond to time out. He laughs in your face when the other one rushed to do as told. One pukes the medicines while the other one swallows without complaint.

Does anyone relate?

First Flight


 

The Family

The baby birds have flown! Recently I posted about a mother bird who had nested in my flower box. In my last post, the baby birds were already full feathered, but still had not flown. I had mentioned how the mother had been cooing at them from the floor and that I thought she was trying to encourage flight.

Well, after that they started walking around the flower box and eventually jumping from one box to another while they flapped their wings.  Last Monday (05/14/2012) night I noticed the birds were all alone. It seemed strange that the mother wasn’t there. I was actually concerned. She always left in the early morning. Never at night.

Practice

The next day she was nowhere… That night they were still alone. I wondered if something had happened to the Mother Bird, but my instinct told me not to worry. And of course, she appeared on Wednesday afternoon. My 4-year-old rushed over to inform me that the mother bird was back. She was cooing at them again.  They stood near the railing and swoosh… the bigger pigeon flew away. It wasn’t long before the other one followed.

And with that they were gone. The next day one of them came back and lingered for a few minutes. Maybe it was saying “goodbye.” Then it took off and we have not seen our avian roommates since.

My guess is they have gone to start their real bird lives. Maybe their mother flies with them now, teaching them where to get food and find shelter. I wish I could be part of that too, but alas… I cannot fly. Not like the birds do anyway.

The whole process was wonderful; watching the Mother Bird raise her chicks. But I think the most important lesson is about hunger. Our little “tortolita”  (Zenaida aurita) did a very important thing in order to get her babes to fly… She let them go hungry.

Contemplating the plunge

I’ve read about eagles. They starve the baby birds when they are fully feathered and the mother flies around them, waving fresh meat in their faces, just out of reach. The point is to motivate them into taking that awful leap into the air. Must be scary as shit and apparently, only hunger, real hunger, will get you to take that risk. Only hunger can make you fly.

I could’ve fed them when I noticed the mother had gone. I thought about it too, but opted to trust nature instead. And I would’ve ruined it if I had done that. I would’ve killed their instinct and made them lazy. In my attempt to “help” I would’ve “unhelped;” spoiling the baby birds and preventing their flight. Perhaps humans, in their obsessive attempts to “help” everyone, actually end up “unhelping.” By providing everything for our children, our people, we kill their drive, their hunger, for progress. And progress only comes out of necessity. They come hand in hand.

And what is a human with all his needs met? BORED and LAZY.

The Mother Bird


I have a new roommate. She has no name; for I haven’t named her, but she is a mother.  From what I see, she is a single other, like me.  But then again, I could be wrong. I haven’t asked, and I don’t think she will tell.

Playeras in my balcony.

You see, my new roommate is a puertorican tortola. (Tortola cardosantera, Zenaida aurita.) A type of bird. She has fashioned her nest in my “playeras.” Playeras are beautiful tropical flowers.  I have a few growing in a flower box in my balcony.

I noticed the nest a few weeks ago when I saw two eggs amongst the flattened flowers. Then she began to spend longer and longer in the nest until it seemed they must have hatched, but she covered the eggs completely and I couldn’t tell.  Then one day I noticed a tiny beak looking thing from beneath her feathers. I wondered if it could be a pigeon and as an answer to my question, it moved.

The Mother Bird in her nest.

It suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t seen her leave the nest in several days. Probably since the eggs hatched. Poor thing, she must be starving (I thought). Of course not! The mother bird is not stupid. She knows she needs to be in good health in order to take care of her babes, so she must be getting food somehow.

But the mother bird can’t take her babies with her when she goes to get food. There are no bird seats available! She has no daddy (as far as I can tell) to bring food, she has no nanny or delivery service; no mother to come save the day… Then how does she get food? She has no choice. She has to get it herself, and she has to leave her babies alone to do it.

How horrible it must be to have to leave your babies all alone and just pray they are still there when you come back! The poor thing. She is a brave and courageous mother. Of course, she is also smart. She builds her nest up high and sheltered. So far, her choice has proved fruitful. Her babies are safe. However, I still haven’t seen her leave… When?

Baby pigeons 05/04/2012

Then one day, I saw them; the pigeons. It was 6:15am. First light. They huddled together to keep warm. And of course, they were alone.

I can only feel admiration for this mother bird. This single mother of two lives completely in the service of her offspring. She guards them, feeds them and nurtures them at all times. She leaves, only to provide sustenance. She does what she must do, however difficult. A mother to admire…

Full grown 05/12/2012

It’s been a few weeks now and the pigeons are full of feathers. Mother bird has begun to act a bit strange.  She coos (or whatever it is pigeons do) and walks around the floor. I think she is encouraging her babies to fly, but I’m not sure. I will keep you posted about my new roommate.