A Tubby Tabby, Three Konekos, and a Life with Hello Kitty and Autism

Archive for December, 2007

A Clean House: A Gift Graciously Accepted

Monday, December 31st, 2007

The Friendship Award

Thank you, Teacher Julie, for the friendship award you gave me. I feel honored and privileged. I hasten, however, to make a distinction between an online friendship and a virtual friendship, because while the latter is acceptable in form when it comes to computer jargon, it also connotes something that is “existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual fact, form, or name.”

We have not always been friends, not in the conventional manner of friends who chat on the phone or see each other for coffee or go shopping or gab for hours. We lost track of each other for a long time, true, but I’ve always believed that time and distance were mere inconveniences to true friends. You were Alex’s first teacher, the one he looked up to with adoring eyes, the one whose word was law, and the one who helped me cope with two precocious boys in the first year of Alphonse’s diagnosis. For all the things you were to me and to Alex then, and for all the things you are to me now, you are and will always be a friend.

Friendship awards are no fun unless they’re passed on to loved ones, and this I willingly pass on to

Leirs  (Can you imagine we’ve never met in person but we’re really good friends? I am also honored to be her daughter Adrianne’s baptismal godmother. ) 

Susan  (She is a complete package - beauty of face and beauty of heart. And though I know of her only through her blog and her book, I will always consider her a friend.) 

NinJas & Joe (The exasperating peas that complete my sisters pod, whether I want them to or not)

Megamom  (We lost a lot of years, Megamom, but we’re making up for lost time. Thank you for the renewed friendship)

Teacher Julie  (No, I am not giving you back your gift but I sure hope you don’t mind that I give you the same gift.)

End of Year Sweeps: A Tag Fulfilled…

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Your Birthdate: May 31

You’re a pretty traditional person. If it’s lasted, it’s probably good.You seek stability - both in your career and your romantic relationship.

In return, you’re very loyal and predictable. Which is usually a good thing.

Without a partner, you feel lost. Being with someone is very important to you.Your strength: Your dependability

Your weakness: You hate being alone

Your power color: Midnight blue

Your power symbol: Shell

Your power month: April

What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

This is the overdue response to Megamom’s tag. Thank you for tagging me again, my friend!

The rules are:
1. Mention the person who tagged you and create a link back to them.
2. Copy-paste the traits for all the twelve months (see below).
3. Pick your month of birth.
4. Highlight the traits that apply to you.
5. Tag 12 people and let them know by visiting their blogs and leaving a comment for them.
6. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve done it!

Stubborn and hard-hearted. Strong-willed and highly motivated. Sharp thoughts.
Easily angered. Attracts others and loves attention. Deep feelings. Beautiful physically and mentally. Firm Standpoint. Needs no motivation. Easily consoled. Systematic (left brain). Loves to dream. Strong clairvoyance. Understanding. Sickness usually in the ear and neck. Good imagination. Good physical. Weak breathing. Loves literature and the arts. Loves traveling. Dislike being at home. Restless. Not having many children. Hardworking. High spirited. Spendthrift.

My husband will attest that I tend to dig my heels in when the issues are particularly important to me. I can be one very stubborn momma but I don’t think anyone can think of me as hard-hearted. My sisters complain that I’m much too softhearted for my own good and that makes me an easy target to those who take advantage of others.

I also used to be such a pushover when I was a child. I was bullied relentlessly in grade school but I didn’t know how to get angry. As I grew older, however, I found out that I could express anger and still not be mean-spirited. A lot of things arouse my anger these days, but I am careful as ever to keep a rein on my negative feelings and thoughts.

I’ve changed a lot over the years, true, but I like to think that in doing so, I found the real me. Perhaps I do have the many traits of a May-born in me, but then again, who I am and what I stand for today is also a function of my rearing, my education, my experiences, my friendships, and my loves. Most of all, who I am is defined by the goodness and kindness of one person who saw beauty where others did not.



Countdown to the New Year

Monday, December 31st, 2007

I sprained my ankle the day before Christmas, in a bad pivot step that had my foot at a bad angle with the rest of my body. The swelling hasn’t gone down completely almost a week after and despite analgesics, it still hurts a @#&* lot. I wear a support brace for my ankle so I can still hobble around the house and do chores (Alphonse imitates my “Igor” walk a lot and it actually looks hilarious!) but because I haven’t been completely off my bad ankle, healing is taking a lot longer than I expected.

(photo borrowed from the website of the American Academy of Family Physicians)

I’ve been hardly online since the holidays started. The necessary chores of the season — from decorating to gift-wrapping to cooking to gift delivery — all fall under the vast domain of mothers. And while my loving husband certainly pulls his own bootstraps, sometimes, it just feels easier when I get to do it my own way. Ah, mothers can be such control freaks.

The writing has taken a back seat for now; the blogging, too. I stayed up extra late the other night to put up my birthday greetings for my husband, but other than that, there hasn’t been time enough to catalog the special activities of the season that add extra heft to an otherwise already normally heavy “every day.” (Alphonse has school even on holidays.)

But with the New Year barely hours away, I feel compelled to stay up an extra night to “pay my debts” and clear out the bad luck. (I am Chinese-Filipino, purposely educated in liberal mindsets, but the old traditions I grew up with are still hard to ignore, much like an itch you can’t dismiss; you just have to scratch it.) I still owe Megamom a tag (thank you, my friend, for your patience) and Teacher Julie’s friendship award certainly deserves special mention. Before the New Year comes, I must, I must, I must keep my promises, and wipe the slate clean. And so the next two posts will be resolutions to pending tags, in the hope that much like in real life, starting fresh and clean before the New Year will bring this blog lots of love, lots of fun, lots of Hello Kittys, lots more friends, and lots more tags.

Once more, with feeling

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

I got this from a very interesting website called Koalajoe Doll House. Of the many beautiful dolls and beautiful, ingenious pictures of dolls Joanna of Koalajoe has in her site, this one struck me as most appropriate for my long-enduring husband’s patience, understanding, and love.

From Koalajoe.com- Priceless


Happy, happy birthday, my priceless A!

The clock ticks to forever

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

I wrote this eight years ago for my best friend, a few days before the end of the last century. Many years later, this still says everything I feel for this person, so allow me to share with you our friendship’s journey to forever.

At The Turn Of The Century

I remember the day I started on my life’s journey. I was nervous, yet determined. There was no logic, no order, no preconceived plans for what was to come after, but the absolute rightness of the decision overshadowed any qualms or indecision there might have been.

I stood there, in front of a judge, holding on to my best friend’s hand. With a few chosen words here and there, a wave of a hand, a beckoning gesture, it was over in minutes. I was so woozy I almost fainted twice. To this day, all I remember is the continuous reassurance of my best friend’s hand in mine. Nothing else.

The first time I met my best friend, I had no inkling we were destined for anything extraordinary. It was an innocuous day, one just like many others before it. We were high school students in a debate team. He was an excellent speaker, fluent and quick of thought. A thin, wiry snip of a boy, he held himself in a manner that seemed almost haughty. Yet, when he spoke, his voice loomed large over our heads, obliterating any formed idea in our opponents’ midst. He was a devastating adversary in any debate team, and that first day, I counted myself fortunate to be on his side. In the years that followed, we would end up on opposing sides, and our scorecards would almost always be even. Still, win or lose, the best debater’s award almost always went to him.

We didn’t start out as friends, I suppose. He was too small to be noticed easily then. At fourteen, I thought myself a woman of the world, a veritable poster girl for the eighties. I thought myself too old for friendships with little children and sought the company of more mature friends. Through some twist of circumstance, I found myself alone with him. We started talking. The longer I listened, the more I found out how amazing this intelligent, opinionated, assertive young man was. I found myself drifting towards him more and more often, until I would hold off a part of my day just to spend a few minutes in conversation with him. In no time at all, we became best friends.

The First Year of Friendship

(an old and faded photograph of the first years of friendship)

The friendship didn’t come too easily at times. In junior year, he and I had a severe falling out that left me hurting for a long time. We spent a few months apart, in silence, each tending to our wounds. One day he held out his hand to me and on that day of reconciliation, it was as if all those months of icy silence melted away and we were still all that was of the friendship.

We nursed each other through broken relationships. We wrote long letters to each other. We would hand them over in between classes as we passed long corridors. We read books together, some parts aloud, and savored the words as they fleeted between us. We shared our amateurish attempts at poetry with each other - all that was precious to us bound in two thick spiral notebooks. We would meet often and spend hours gabbing away, talking about our futures.

In college, he would trek all the way to Manila from the cozy enclave of the Jesuits in Quezon City just to spend a few hours with me in school, a sacrifice not even my boyfriend back then was willing to make. Of course, I should mention that his ex-girlfriend was my classmate in the university, and so, while he visited me, he also kept an eye in a reunion with her. This, however, became an exercise in futility as neither one was willing to budge from their stances. A year after they broke up, both gave up for good. At around the same time, I parted ways with my boyfriend. Once more, as in the past, we nursed our broken hearts and consoled each other with our friendship. “You are too good for him anyway” became his chosen mantra for me. Somehow his words seemed to ease the pain I felt.

My best friend left for the United States shortly thereafter. I had known that there were plans for his family to move abroad, but I hadn’t really thought it would be that soon. For the second time in our friendship, he and I parted ways. His stay in a foreign land left me disoriented, as if I had lost the other half of myself, but I was too proud to let him know that I missed him. I kept silent for a long time, afraid to reach out to him. And he, in his temporary life, kept his distance too, hurt as he was by my silence and seeming nonchalance.  

Almost a year passed before he returned. I found out from a mutual friend that he had been asking about me. That day, I knocked at his door and welcomed him with a warm embrace and a chocolate cake. It was really like coming home for me.

From then on, letters flew between us and the lines of friendship started to blur. We burned the phone lines with late-night talks, each one trying to make up for past mistakes. One day, we learned that we needed each other more that we should have. Rational beings that we were, we discussed our feelings objectively and tried to create new rules for ourselves. We realized that we could not be merely friends, though we were still afraid to move on to a different level. And so, for half a year, we referred to each other as “more-than-friends,” as if this absurd appellation would somehow cure us of our dreaded feelings.

Four years to that day, I started my life’s journey. With my best friend.

My life with this man, my best friend, is a life of blessings and joys. Yes, I admit we have gone through some bad times, times when I thought we would break from the strain, but we went through them hand in hand, together. Eight years to the day I started my journey, I can speak with pride and happiness of the life we built. Two young boys, the love of our lives, remain our testaments to friendship and love.

To this day, my best friend nurses the wounds of my heart and calms the discontent of my soul. He still whips my life in a frenzy. In his hands, I have found all that I have sought for in my lifetime. In his hands, I have found the courage to soar and to fly. In his hands, I have found love.

And so here I am, at the turn on the century, still holding his hand.

This is real life.


My best friend, my love, my husband, turns 40 today. More than just a numerical milestone of the passing of time, his birthday is a gift, a special reminder of the past, present, and future days of our lives together…as the clock ticks to forever.

Happy birthday, my love.  

Better Late Than Never

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Myspace Backgrounds - Hello Kitty - Happy Holidays

Before the night gives way to the new morning, allow me to wish all a very Merry Christmas, with wishes of peace and love today and every day!

To Ondine, Cocok, Cynthia, Gaylie, Megamom, Teacher Julie, and Leirs, my very special thanks for your friendship.

And to Big A and two Not-so-small-anymore As, loves of my life, thank you for another Christmas spent in your loving arms.

A Kitty Christmas Family

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

And lastly, before I am engulfed by the endless rounds of merrymaking, I leave you with our Kitty Christmas Family Picture.

By a stroke of good luck, I chanced upon a store selling magnetic picture trees (shaped literally like a tree, duh!) with individual picture holders decorated with Kitty’s trademark ribbon in pink.

Now, even the men in my family are honorary Hello Kittys! (Did I just hear a loud groan?)

 My Kitty Family Picture Tree 

My Kitty Christmas

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

I took pictures of our Christmas tree when guests came over today. I’m proud that we didn’t spend a lot for our tree and instead, relied on creativity, perseverance (I still sport glue gun burns), and a lot of manual work to create something new out of something old. We used old (but precious) decorations, recycled worn garlands into strings of bling-blings, and transformed my Hello Kitty keychain collection to new ornaments.

our homemade christmas tree

The tree is almost twelve years old and truthfully, I was itching to get a new one. But A reminded me how much the tree meant to us when we first bought it. Alex was then barely two; he would coo and sing carols whenever he saw a decorated tree. The year before that, we were able to borrow my mother-in-law’s plastic tree which she had left in storage when the rest of the family moved to the US. That year, however, A and I decided to create new memories with our very own tree, decorated with handmade plaster and paper decorations Alex and I made.

And so, the tree stayed. The opportunity to reinvent an aging tree turned out to be a Christmas journey by itself. Here are some pictures taken up close. 

details of our homemade christmas tree

The beautiful Christmas ball ornaments are handmade productions of our friend Bambi. Her mom, who happened to be our ninang (godmother), would proudly present us a few each year as early Christmas presents. The year before Ninang passed away, she sent us a whole box and I was so giddy with happiness. These ornaments occupy a place of honor in our tree.

To complete the Kitty motif in our home, I threw in some pieces from my Kitty collection: a wreath, some snow Kitties, a miniature pink tree, and small plushes.

kitty christmas decor

Where Christmas last year was drowned by our cries of sorrow, this year, it is a season of celebration. That we survived this year and its unhappy beginning is but for the grace and love of a merciful Creator. Our family has weathered many challenges this year. In God’s hands, we are scathed but unbowed.

A Very Special E-card

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Autism Society Philippines Christmas Card

I received this e-card from Autism Society Philippines today. In this season of giving, it reminds us that the best gifts are always those that come from the heart. As parents of differently-abled individuals, we continue to pray fervently that love, understanding, tolerance, and acceptance are present in our children’s lives. 

We pray that we do not have to keep fighting everyday for our children’s right to their place in the sun. We pray that they will not be met with prejudice or intolerance. We pray that society will allow them to be who they are, no matter how different or how far they are from everyone’s definition of “normal.” 

They will then be just… children.  

Happy Birthday, Daddy Only!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Dad and Son (1968)- A Sr. and A Jr.

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so,

He called it … Dad

(author unknown) 



When Alex was a year old, we taught him to call his grandparents Daddy and Mommy. (A and I were Papa and Mama.) He tweaked this a bit by adding Lolo (grandfather) and Lola (grandmother) to their names, thus coming up with Daddy Lolo for my dad and Mommy Lola for my mom. A’s mom was also Mommy Lola, although as he grew up, he decided to call her Mommy Flower (her real name was Flora) or Granny Flower. A’s dad was also Daddy Lolo, but this evolved into Daddy Only, from a telephone conversation they had when Alex was three.  


Three-year-old Alex: I love you, Daddy Lolo.

Daddy: Alex, just call me Daddy. Don’t add Lolo at the end anymore, okay? Daddy only.

Three-year-old Alex: Okay, Daddy Only. I love you.


The name stuck.

Daddy is, and will always be, my kids’ Daddy Only.

Today, on his birthday, we send him our love from across the miles. In the cold temperatures of New York, we send Dad our warmest hugs and slurpiest kisses to keep him snug another Christmas season away from us.

Happy Birthday, Dad! We miss you and we love you very, very much!