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

Archive for May, 2008

Stepping Up To Be “Wifely”

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Much Too Young!I’m writing this from an undisclosed location, away from the kids for a change. I am on a very special birthday vacation. Yes, friends, tomorrow, I turn a year older. :-)

I was hesitant to celebrate my birthday away from the children. Aside from the worries of the long days and nights without my boys, I worry about the people who have lovingly volunteered their time to be surrogate parents to them (my parents and sisters). And yet, they all agree, son Alex included, that I deserve this. And that I should grab at this chance to replenish my soul, to rejuvenate my spirit, and to renew the commitments I made to myself and to my family for personal changes. I am speechless with their generosity.

So now, here I am, alone in a picture-perfect room, away from my Alexander and Alphonse. A is running some errands for me, and I only have my laptop to keep me company. I am unused to the silence. I have never been alone this long before.

Languidly, I click on my Hello Kitty mouse and the pictures change. I find myself lingering on some blogs, one of them, Toni’s Wifely Steps. For a woman many years younger (and lighter, hehe) than me, we have surprisingly similar interests. I smile as I browse through my favorites. Books, games, crafts, home, marriage and family. Perhaps that’s why I am drawn to her every day.

Bostik saves the day!Sometimes, her posts are fluff and light, filled with juicy tidbits and humor; other times, they can be somber and thought-provoking, filled with soul-searching and gravitas. You can never tell what strikes her fancy, but I always hope for the following: Sims 2 (and other gaming news), Twilight, books and, of course, lots of “A Day In the Life” and “Spick and Span” posts. After all, I wouldn’t have gotten around to fixing my son’s sleeping bag if it were not for Toni and her Bostik Sew No More.

I am distracted by the knocking on the door. Room service, I think. I wait a bit more before I open the door, distracted by the upcoming Sims 2 IKEA Stuff, to be released in June. The knocking continues and I run to let the server in.Addicted to Sims 2

He looks at me funny as I sign for the meal. I catch my reflection on the mirror and see that I am, in fact, grinning to myself. I remember that I have yet to show one of my favorite posts from Toni, “There is no love in laundry,” to my husband. It brings me back to our early days when A and I were newly married and we did everything together (we still do); I think he’ll get a smile out of this.

The door opens again. A is back, smiling. He proudly shows me a bottle of Coke Zero he got somewhere (“Coke is outrageously pricey in hotels,” he reminds me).

This is what this vacation is all about. Time to just be a wife to A. Time to recommit to our marriage. Happy birthday to me, I thought to myself, as I pull A to the large comfy bed.


I didn’t think I’d have time to blog during my vacation but I wanted to squeeze this in before time runs out at midnight tonight.

Wifely StepsToni of Wifely Steps is celebrating her fifth anniversary as blogger (and also five years of marriage). I write this out of appreciation for the enjoyment I derive from her weblog. Thank you, Toni! Happy Aniversary and Happy Anniversary!

No Sanctuary for Autism

Friday, May 30th, 2008

From HerWord.com, published May 29, 2008:

“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-16; Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17)

It’s a half past two in the morning. I should be sleeping but my underpants are in a knot again (it feels like a wedgie, only bulkier). I was doing some late-night surfing when I chanced upon this news article about autism. “Minnesota Priest Bans Boy with Autism from Church,” the headlines scream, and I am downright furious.

Below is the entire news article from Blogger News Network.

“A Roman Catholic priest, Rev. Daniel Walz, has banned a 13-year-old boy with autism from his church in Minnesota, on the grounds of disruptive behaviour. According to news reports, the priest was worried that the boy’s behavior was “disruptive and dangerous,” according to court documents. The Catholic priest had filed a restraining order preventing the boy with autism from entering the Church of St.Joseph in Bertha, Minnesota.

“Carol Race, the mother of the autistic boy named Adam, found out about the restraining order when she tried to attend mass at the Church of St. Joseph, where she usually went on Sundays. Todd County Sheriff Pete Mikkelson appeared in her driveway to warn her she would be taken into police custody if she and her son entered St. Joseph.

“Race of Bertha, Minnesota in the United States, refuted the claims made by the priest and stated that Adam may be noisy at times, but they usually sit in the back of the church and try to stay quiet. She also said that the restraining order amounts to outright discrimination.

“Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder affecting over 60 million people around the World. According to the CDC, one in 150 children in the United States is on the autism spectrum.

“The United Nations General Assembly in New York recently launched the first-ever World Autism Awareness Day on 2nd April. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a message on World Autism Awareness Day - he paid tribute to the courage of children with autism and their families, who strive every day “to confront the disability with a powerful combination of determination, creativity and hope.”

“In his message marking the World Autism Awareness Day, Mr. Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to build enabling environments for children with disabilities so they can prosper as future members of their communities, citizens of their countries and as fully-fledged members of the global community.

“Campaigners are calling on Pope Benedict XVI to make a statement on autism and to provide instructions to the church on how to reach out to children and adults with disabilities - including autism and Asperger’s syndrome.”

Reading this brought me back to one of Mr. Brown’s posts about his daughter Faith  written in January of this year. He asked then, “When will Faith find her place in this society? When will she find her place in God’s House? How do we plan to accept kids like her for who they are, in our families, in our communities, and in our places of worship?” Sadly, like him, I too am at a loss.

I have a son Adam’s age, and like Adam, my Alphonse is severely autistic. He is noisy and loud; he shouts and screeches, even in public. He is hyperactive. He likes to jump and pace and gallop. While he may be a lot shorter than Adam’s six feet, Alphonse certainly can pack a wallop.

The first time we brought him to church to worship, we were met with curious stares and loud mutterings of complaints. The choir was singing an upbeat praise song and Alphonse seemed to enjoy it, judging by his frantic jumping and the laughter and shouts that came from him. There was a continuous stream of hushing around us, and one old woman, a church lay worker, finally decided to do something about it. She went up to our faces to say “Shouting is not allowed in church.” Then she shifted her gaze to my son and said rather loudly, “Be quiet, young man.” Alphonse simply laughed aloud some more.

I explained to everyone who would care to listen that my son is autistic. I asked for understanding and tolerance, and, if my memory serves me right, perhaps even apologized for him being the way he is. Some asked to be enlightened some more; others simply sulked in quiet irritation. A few we had to stare down till they looked away. (My older son Alex has perfected what he calls “The Evil Eye, ” which has as its components the makings of a bushy unibrow coupled with a big, buggy, insane look.) The old woman disappeared in the midst of my explanation. In the end, while others still gawked and stared awkwardly, they all stopped complaining.

In truth, such experiences are hardly new to us. They are more the rule than the exception, as these days, we still struggle to secure a place in society for our son. You might almost say we have gotten a little immune against these experiences of bigotry and intolerance. But to experience it in places of worship deeply hurts us as parents. If our children cannot find acceptance and tolerance in church, where would they ever find these? If they are not welcome in their Father’s house, where else would they be?

Not wishing to cast aspersions on the motives of others, I looked at the reasons for Father Walz to deny a person his right to worship. Allegedly, Adam had not only been disruptive, but violent as well.

But you know what? My son can be that way, too. And given what we know of our son, given what we have learned from our years of living with and loving him, I still feel that he should NEVER ever be deprived of his chance to worship, never mind that they say he doesn’t even understand. He doesn’t need to; his Father does.

There are other ways to address this issue, ways that are more humane, even more Christlike. Father Walz, above all, should know. Christ’s Church has never turned anyone away, certainly not the “least” of its people, the socially marginalized, the sick, the disabled. That we have reached a point where even the most “accepting” of all sanctuaries would no longer provide refuge for our children gives me little hope for the future of my son and all children like him.

And this leads me to even more questions. When we allow the banning of autistic persons from church, you have to ask soon, where does it end? Do we start banning them from restaurants, too? From malls? From streets? From life?

O, Lord, help us.


I wrote this last week but got only published this week. In the interim, there have been many things written about this. Today, when the issue has become less volatile and I have had ample time to think and mull over this, my stand remains the same. The Church should always be a sanctuary for the weakest of our people and at no point should it have to choose which ones are let in and which ones are not. I would think that in a society whose strongest virtues are liberty and equality, there should be no room for fear, ignorance, and prejudice.

Garfield’s (Kitty)Mama

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

The Blog Rounds(This originally came out in the e-zine Outpost. With minor changes, I am posting this as my entry to the 11th TBR hosted by Doc J.A. of  Ripples From The River Of My Thoughts.)

I came upon my own recipe for lasagna the year I started medical school. My social life was drastically curtailed as I was forced more and more to catch up on reading assignments. I had broken up with my boyfriend the year before and my emotional health was at an all-time low. While I had lost a considerable amount of weight during the years he and I were together, the summer before med school saw me adding more than 15 pounds to my girth, perhaps in trepidation over the dreaded years ahead.

So there I was, unhappy and fat, confined to my room to face a mountain of textbooks, desperately trying to get out of doing homework. To escape the dreary monotony of schoolwork, I puttered to the kitchen for the nth time that day, scrounging for leftovers, sandwiches, and packets of previously opened junk food. Having scraped the refrigerator almost clean, I started opening pantry drawers in search for more munchies. The pantry was almost empty by then, save for a few boxes of popcorn, a jar of peanut butter, a tetra-brick of tomato paste, and a box of lasagna noodles.

Then, a flash of inspiration hit me! I rushed to the study room and looked up old cookbooks. I saw an entry for lasagna and scanned the recipe for details. The cookbook was almost a decade old so the recipe seemed a little staid. Now armed with the basic know-how, I turned the kitchen upside-down searching for possible entries to my revised recipe. There was no Parmesan cheese so I settled for quickmelt cheese. There was ground meat in the freezer and there were tomatoes fresh from mom’s garden that day. I saw a fifth of a bottle of white wine in the chiller and I decided to appropriate that for my white sauce. There were some also leftover boiled crabs from dinner the night before so I decided to use that too.

I hurriedly took some money from my wallet and walked the block down to the grocery store over at Times Street, all thoughts of anatomy forgotten. I filled in the rest of my shopping list and ran all the way back, breathless and wheezing from excitement.

In two hours, I had prepared my first lasagna. I ate about half before the rest of my siblings were drawn to the scent and devoured the rest of the dish.

In the following years, I must have made more than a thousand lasagnas for my friends and myself. Most often, the urge to eat lasagna comes when I am at the nadir of my life. Case in point: the day I flubbed the big neuroscience practical examination.

Two weeks before the semester’s end, the college’s most eminent neurologists tested us individually, medical school freshmen, to see how much we had learned from a term’s work load. There would be two exams of that nature for the year, one at the end of each semester. Failure in both exams would doom the student to an entire summer of ward work and lectures while the rest of the class enjoyed the summer break. Failing one meant doing extra research and more course work, courtesy of one’s preceptor.

We held study groups to prepare ourselves for the big day. Older students shared their savvy and expertise. Their most relevant tip? Don’t make a fool of yourself.

We did the rounds of older students’ groups, siphoning them of information which teacher was kindest or who was the strictest, and which chapters to concentrate on. Rumors flew around us and we spent many an hour milling around the lecture lobby, waiting for some salvation from our dreaded state. Some said the techniques on physical and neurological examinations were supposed to count so we used each other as dummy patients. In the end, however, we were told that the entire graderested on the diagnosis.

It was supposed to be a simple case; all one needed to do to pass was to decide whether it was a lower or upper motor neuron disorder. On the day of the examination, we drew lots to see who will test us and just my luck! I drew the stub with the name of this professor notorious for giving out the most difficult questions in any exam. All my false bravado flew out the window, replaced by fear, anxiety, desperation and terror.

The minute I saw Dr. Neurologist, my legs turned to jelly. I had to calm my nerves quietly before I could even step inside the room. I kept chanting under my breath, “Don’t make a fool of yourself. Relax. Smile.” I forced a smile but it came out as an expression of sourness. The doctor stared at me, returning a look of exasperation in his otherwise stoic demeanor.

I examined the patient in haste and started running through the differential diagnoses in my clouded mind. “Lower motor neuron disorder secondary to what-was-that, the thing with the whats-its and whos-its, ahhh, dang it!” I had memorized a whole chapter on the topic yet my mind was drawing a complete blank!

The seconds ticked on slowly, and in the corner of my eye, I saw the doctor stifle a yawn, impatience flashing through his features. He asked a series of pointed questions, all the while motioning for me to hurry up and be done with it.

In my panic, I blabbered like an idiot, trying to swallow the bolus of fear that had lodged deep in my throat. When his patience finally ran thin, he whispered, “Decide now, doktora,” in a low, serious tone. It was make or break time. I decided to end my agony by blurting out the first diagnosis I thought of. (more…)

Apron Strings

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Sleeping like a babyI woke up very early this morning with a feverish child cuddled by my side. His breathing was raspy and shallow. Alphonse was hot, yet he was shivering from the cold of the airconditioning. I turned off the cold air and covered him with a light cotton blanket. After a while, his breathing became more regular and peaceful. I let him sleep.

As I read a book quietly by his side, I thought about how much this child, nay, young man, still needs me and his father, even at thirteen. Where neurotypical children of his age are raring for independence, Alphonse still clings to us like a little baby. He needs us for many things, most of all, his security. Many times, he would wake up in the middle of the night just to check if we were there beside him. When I work late at nights, he would fetch me from whatever it is I am doing and beckon me to go to bed. And when A and I are late coming back from a movie or dinner date, he would be sitting in the garage, waiting for us to come home to him.

Yes, of late, he has been more independent, more willing to try out things for himself. He feeds, bathes, and dresses himself, with very little help from us at all. Sure, when he eats he can be very messy as he has not mastered the art of the fork (we use a large tray to catch his spills), and yes, sometimes, he puts his underwear on backwards. Yet each time he does these things for himself, he looks to us for approval, for a sign that we appreciate what he has accomplished for himself.

His big brother, on the other hand, is the opposite. At fifteen, he relishes his independence and guards it zealously. He is quick to barrel through the world with all its ugliness and harshness, knocking down obstacles like one swats flies. These days, he struggles against our apron strings and pulls them taut many times, as if to test our limits as parents. He is no longer a child, and becoming more and more of his own man.

Once upon a time, A and I imagined a time when we would be empty nesters, when the children were grown and responsible for themselves. Perhaps we could travel the world then. Perhaps we could retire in some obscure but picturesque village in his father’s native province. And then, looking at a sleeping Alphonse in the middle of our family bed, A and I quickly dismiss the thought. We would never be empty nesters, and while there comes a twinge of sadness with this thought, there is happiness in it too. Alphonse will never know how it is to be alone and unloved.

Multiply My Tree Of Blessings

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Over the last week, I’ve had great surprises come that it almost feels like my birthday is upon me (and it’s still a few days yet)! Hello Kitty, as the news tells us, has become an Ambassador of Goodwill and Tourism between Japan and China, but this is simply a very superficial or shallow overview of Hello Kitty’s impact on people’s lives. I for one am blessed with new friendships that come from the people I meet who buy, sell, or love Kittychan as much as I do.

I got my first package on the weekend, when I met up with Ms. Shirley A. The other packages all came on the same day, one personally delivered by the lovely Ms. Dee and two others by mail (from Aj of ♥Min8♥ and Esi of twozeroforever. Boy, was I excited!

Hello Kitty for cooking and bakingHello Kitty vanity mirror, basket and wow freebiesI love my visor so much I wear it indoors and even at night!

Skinning A Laptop

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

This is a laptop skin I got from Ms. Shirley a while back. I put it in to illustrate what it looks like. I actually made a mistake in cutting so I had to contend with a plain top but had I planned ahead, I would have known better how to cut it to fit. For all those who keep asking Ms. Shirley if it’ll fit your laptops, it will. The skin comes in one size- 15 x 10-1/2 inches and you need to cut it to the size you prefer. I have a 12-inch laptop so I needed to trim more of mine.

The skin is vinyl, thicker than a G-mask (I just peeled my G-mask off because I got bored with the flowers), and is repositionable. It doesn’t leave any residue. I got two skins, the pink one and one of the Eva-Air designs. I’m thinking of puttingthe other skin on my Guitar Hero guitar.

I Didn’t Know Buying Online Would Yield A Friend

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Package from ViviI’m new to the local online buying scene and before this, I’ve only had one dealing with a very good seller, Ms. Shirley A, who I now consider a friend. But because I meet up with her, I was still a little wary about online sellers. Having done my very first official business with Ms. Vivi, I am very happy that not only was I satisfied with my purchase, I got to meet such a lovely person along the way. Alphonse loves this Hello Kitty timer!Package with freebiesVivi\'s yummy cinnamon sugar cookies (last one left!)

Thanks, Vivi!

Well Done and Overloaded

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

A friend sent me this, thinking I needed some cheering up. Had me a really good one. :-) Ambassador Kitty

My apologies to all Kitty fanatics. (Sorry, Hello Kitty Junkie, my friend!) As much as I truly love this cute feline, I am not above having a good laugh at her expense. After all, anytime she brings a smile to someone’s face, she does her job of being Ambassador of Cute and Goodwill.

The original post can be found here at Gizmodo, the Gadget Guide.  


Hello Kitty Found Dead, Charred in Los Angeles

Kitty Pizza

LOS ANGELES, California (Agencies) — Hello Kitty, actress, astrophysicist and acclaimed author of the play I Can Has Pink Cheezburger, has been found dead in her Los Angeles apartment on Tuesday, probably because of an accident with a home appliance and drug overdose. LAPD, however, is not ruling out other possibilities:

“We are not ruling out other possibilities,” said LAPD captain Mike Furillo, “there’s the microwave, the gas oven, the hairdryer, the water boiler, the butler and that huge stash of MDMA and Xanax.” He then proceeded to show the press what appeared to be sightly burned leather gloves in a plastic bag. “And then we have these. We found them in the living room with the initials O.J. on them. Can you believe it? Can you see the pattern here? Can you? Huh? Huh?” while winking repeatedly at the press waiting outside Hello Kitty’s apartment block.

Japanese-born Kitty, 34, whose real name was Janice Lindeblower, was found naked, her body charred on the kitchen floor next to dead boyfriend Badtz Badtz Maru, 31, who had the same injuries, according to LA County coroner Jim Exposito. Both were pronounced dead at the scene. Asked about the possible cause of death, Exposito said that “the first clues point out to an electrical problem. Apparently the microwave went into some kind ultra-powerful cycle. Almost demonic. Yeah. That’s it. I bet they were demons or something.” According to Engadget editor Ryan Block, this is highly improbable: “a non-ionizing 2.45 GHz electromagnetic waves emitter consumer-oriented device like this won’t kill people unless their cavity magnetrons have been tampered with, for what the IEEE specifies as military radar definitions, that is, 30 to 300GHz waves. These guys need to learn how to do their jobs.”

Pizza flavors

Two cross-sections from Hello Kitty autopsy. One with roasted pineapple. Gross.

Famed Hello Kitty expert and Digg editor Kevin Rose was sad to hear the news. “I’m sad to hear the news,” Rose said via radio-link from his yacht in the Mediterranean, “my story with Kitty goes a long way back, even if our relationship went a little cold when she met that penguin. No pun intended.”

In a phone call later today, close friend of Kitty and LOLcats Inc.’s VP of Marketing Lady Fatouche declared: “o the tearz. Firs Chandler now Kitty. Wear iz we goin to do wiz no Kitty? Dis terribl sad newz. Terribl.”

Hello Kitty left no heirs to her $58 billion fortune, composed of several estates, intellectual property portfolios, Apple stock and, reportedly, the biggest collection of pink sex toys in the world. According to unnamed sources, erotic novels auteur Jason Chen, who had a brief affair with la Kitty during the ’90s, may claim his rights over her assets. “Or at least, her sex toys collection,” Mr. Chen said in a note sent from his San Francisco, California, 5,380-square-foot triplex bachelor pad. “And her bras.”


Okay, okay, enough of the Kitty jokes. I can’t wait for my friend Vivi to send me my Hello Kitty molders. This post got me hungry for some Kitty pizzas. Overload.

The Cross We Bear

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Was feeling particularly lonely today. And then I got this via email, and suddenly, I am grateful for the chance to reflect on the burdens I bear. I think Someone is sending me a message.

When I am weary, O Lord, and my burden is heavy, teach me to be grateful for the cross I bear.  

More Mother’s Day Adventures

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Mother’s Day started out with a whimper and a groan but ended with a bang. I woke up bright and early to find my beloved santol tree massacred by the man we hired to prune it. A gave specific instructions to cut only the branch that was putting a little too much weight on the concrete fence, but the man, who really did mean well, got a little too carried away with the cutting frenzy and mangled almost half the tree. I was very upset.

Santol Tree- Before and After

Mother\'s Day Rose

To mollify me, A handed me the flowers he had ordered for Mother’s Day, a dozen of the most beautiful pink Ecuadorian roses I’ve ever seen. I was really very happy to receive those beautiful flowers but that morning’s pruning carnage had gotten my underpants in a knot.  I am deeply regretful now that at that moment,  I failed to show my appreciation for this most loving gesture. Dwelling on the bitter events of that morning had soured my disposition, in the process, hurting the one I love most. I saw A’s eyes darkened a bit with sadness when he gave me the flowers. I knew he felt as if I had taken his gift for granted. Later, I apologized to him and asked for forgiveness for my insensitivity.

My Roses

Because I was still so caught up in the morning’s events, I forgot to take pictures of the beautiful bouquet. Then too, a little while later, Alphonse came over and plucked a flower to munch on so I hurriedly transferred the flowers from their pink and cream raffia wrappings to a vase. Only after I had dismantled the wrappings did I realize that I had forgotten to take pictures. :-(

The flowers were last in A’s list of gifts. (His generosity is such that he never gives just one.) Midweek, he gave me a limited edition Switcheasy pink iPhone Capsule, a black Capsule and a black Switcheasy VisionClip. He hadn’t intentionally planned to give them that early; I caught him sneaking in the gifts and he had no choice but to ‘fess up.  A also bought me Hello Kitty gifts- an authentic Sanrio pink and green water bottle (he says it’s from Alphonse) and a SIGG red and white reusable water bottle. Oh, what joy! (I was actually expecting a Hello Kitty Fender Dreadnought acoustic guitar -*hint! hint!*- but I love anything A has to give me.)

Sunday afternoon, we watched Dulaang Sibol’s presentation entitled “INA” (Mother). The boys were totally in their element. Onstage, they shined so brightly that parents and guests alike had perpetual smiles pasted in their faces. Most memorable during the performance was their offering of red roses to their mothers while they sang a medley of The Carpenters’ love songs.

The Dulaang SibolMr. P with the DS sophomores

But “INA” wasn’t simply about us, their mothers. The boys also performed about love for mother nature, for mother country, and Mother Mary. They sang, danced, and recited complicated oratorical pieces. At the end of the show, they were visibly tired but very proud of what their efforts had achieved in just two weeks. Mr. P called on to each boy, from sophomores to juniors and seniors, and gave a short anecdote about each one. Every one of them were beaming in pride and happiness, as we, the audience were.

Mr. P

The show ended quite early, with enough time to squeeze in dinner or a nightcap of hot chocolate. Still, we were all anxious to go home. After all, what was Mother’s Day if one of the reasons for my being a mother – Alphonse- wasn’t with us? True enough, we arrived home just in time as we were greeted with the whoops of joy of a boy who seemed to miss us terribly in our three-hour absence.

Mother’s Day ended with a prayer that night. Cuddled in each other’s arms, we had celebrated another milestone in our lives as a family. As I turned in that night, I prayed the santol tree will live another day, surrounded by the family who loves each other so.