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

Archive for July, 2008

Just Because

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

A took these out from his pocket a few nights ago and handed them over to me without a word.

Four Hello Kitty pens, a pink nail clipper (now attached to my housekeys) and a small metal sliding-top box for medicines or trinkets

“What are these for, honey?” I asked him.

“Nothing, they’re just some things I thought you’d like,” he answered.


“Just because,” his voice trails off as he kisses me lightly on the lips.

 My heart turns to mush.

I play with the pens for a while. I hang the clipper to my keys (you never know when Alphonse might need a trim). I like the box best as I think about transferring my carry-on first aid items to this box.

“Honey, did you notice Kitty’s nose is not yellow?” I try to make more small talk as A slips off his office barong.* He stops what he is doing and looks at me.

“Is her nose supposed to be yellow?”

“U-huh. She might have a stuffy nose in this one, it’s all black!” I giggled like a mababaw na person (mababaw translates to shallow, but the vernacular sounds more apt) .

A asks to look at the box and gives out a groan as he turns it over.

“What?” I asked.


It’s okay, honey, I love it anyway.


*Thirty second lesson on the Philippines: a barong is an embroidered dress shirt of the Philippines; for office use, linen is the cloth of choice but for a formal affair, the choice of cloth would be delicate fabric made from pineapple, banana, or abaca fibers

Blown Away

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I’m listening to Daughtry over iTunes right now, trying to relive the hype and buzz of a Daughtry concert. A and I were at the Eastwood Central Plaza last night to catch Daughtry’s one-night performance. While A and I are normally not rock-loving people (well, just the Guitar Hero-rockin’ kind, ahem), we both enjoy Daughtry’s music, and well, let’s just say that last night was a good excuse as any to rock out with the best of them.

We got to Eastwood at quarter of eight. Traffic was bad at the Libis area; it took us over 45 minutes to navigate the stretch of road from Katipunan Avenue to Eastwood City. With barely 15 minutes left before the concert started, we found a nifty parking spot, jumped from the car, and made it just in time to check out if we were late. And not having enough time for a decent sit-down dinner, we settled for the nearest fastfood diner nearest the venue (KFC- and oops, my mind is going in a different track now, but has anyone noticed how their logo of the Colonel is different than the other KFCs?), swallowed without chewing much (let the stomach acids do all the work, ouch!), and rushed back to to claim our seats in the VIP section at 8:05 p.m. I silently berated myself for being five minutes late as I sat down to a still almost-empty section. Tsk…tsk…tsk…


(8:45 pm, just passing the time)

The concert started late, as always; then again, when has a concert in our country ever started on time? I was a little miffed; plastic seats are not known to come in friendly orthopedic styles and are not exactly kind to behinds. Also, I could have used the extra hour to order real food. I could have even done with more chewing. Still, when the lights went down, all thought of sore butts, aching joints, and growling tummies were laid to rest. It was time to rock!


The crowd goes wild!

Pictures taken with a SE W960i, so they’re not as good as those taken with a dedicated digital camera. My bad, I forgot to recharge my camera. :-(

An hour and a half later, I felt like I had done Guitar Hero and Wii Fit at the same time. I was also almost deaf, haha. People jumped and screamed and shrieked and yelled and tore their hair out (okay, the last one’s an exaggeration), and it was hard to resist the same excitement and delight. Chris Daughtry certainly made me feel very young.

On the way back to the car, A and I took a detour to have a night cap of sorts. It’s my favorite shot of the entire night: me and ice cream. Dairy Queen, you had me at hello!

P.S. Just found out that Daughtry’s “What I Want” is included in Guitar Hero: On Tour for the Nintendo DS, which gives me another reason to save for the $49.99 game and attachment. (See picture below.)


No Words Spoken

Friday, July 25th, 2008
Image by © Martin Meyer/zefa/Corbis
Image by © Martin Meyer/zefa/Corbis

Alphonse and I were waiting in the car last night for A who had gone to run some errands for me (I had him buy some glue sticks from the bookstore). I was reading some messages sent via SMS, quite oblivious to the giggling I was hearing from the back of the car. A few minutes later, Alphonse turned on the interior dome light, apparently to see who he was giggling with. Instinctively, I turned around to tell him off (one of his repetitive habits is switching the lights on and off) when I noticed a young boy standing beside Alphonse’s window. The boy was probably no more than ten years of age, scrawny, dressed in threadbare clothes. He was one of the street urchins who usually offer the use of their umbrellas on rainy days for a fee. Separated by the sheet of window glass, they stared at each other for a few seconds.

Then Alphonse started to giggle, as he looked expectantly at the boy for a reaction. The boy started chuckling in turn, moving his arms in the air, even jumping up and down.. This went on for a few minutes until they were both howling in laughter. After a while, the young boy waved goodbye. Alphonse waved back.  He smiled all the way home. 

Wish that making friends were always this easy.  


Speaking of friendships, I can’t begin to tell everyone how the experience of blogging has opened the world for me with renewed friendships and new ones forged. With a few strokes of the keyboard and a few clicks of the mouse, I have expanded my world beyond what I know.

Megamom shared this lovely tag with me a few weeks ago (thank you, dear friend) and she has an inspiring (and heartbreaking) story to tell that relates to the origins of this tag. I invite you all to click on the links above and read it for yourself. Sharing The Love was created by a grateful mom named Crystal, in honor of the individual who gave her one year-old son Noah a new lease in life by way of an organ donation on July 7, 2007. Noah’s new heart represents not only the best in humanity- the capacity to sacrifice even in the midst of grief- it also speaks of hope and love that we, as sentient beings, all aspire to.

The rules of this award are: SHARE THE LOVE!!! Share this award with all those blogs out there that you love. All the people who make you smile. All those that make you laugh. All those that make your day. All those that leave uplifting comments on your blog. **All I ask, is that you include a link to this post with the award and ask your recipient to do the same**

I pass on this beautiful gift to the special people who have touched my life by way of the written word.

To Casdok of Mother of Shrek and Susan Senator, both mothers of young men with autism, my heroes in this fascinating journey of life with autism,

Susan’s Nat and Casdok’s C are leaving home to explore the world- to learn, to work, to have fun, to   dream- and while I am as proud of them as their mothers, I can’t help but feel their moms’ worries,  apprehensions, anxieties, and fears. It takes a lot of courage and faith to set a child free to explore life. And so I send this to Casdok and Susan, with all the love I can muster in this world, for being the kind of mother I always dream to be.

To Odette of Little Miss Firefly and Gracey of XOXOGracey, whose ingenious crafts are as remarkable as their personalities,

As Odette starts a life Ireland with the man of her heart, I send her this with all the prayers and best wishes for a happy life. And to Gracey, who brings the vibrant colors of our country’s summers to the Netherlands, I send her this, too, with blessings of more grace in her life. Thank you for bringing color to my life.   

And to Mark of No Special Effects, a brilliant young man whose talents never cease to amaze me,  

A physician in the cusp of his career, Doc Mark is the unusual soul whose interests in food and photography make him my all-time favorite food blogger. His gorgeous pictures never fail to heal my soul, and his kindness to an old fogey like me (he visits this blog, yay!) is truly a gift. Thank you!

 God bless you all, dear friends!

Midterm Confessions

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

(aka Please Don’t Shoot The Messenger)

Dinner, Sunday night.

Alex: Mama, we’re going to confession tomorrow. (Sounds nonchalant, just trying to make small talk)

Mom: Uh-huh… (mouth full, making yummy chewing sounds)

Alex: And Ma? (stops in between mouthfuls of food)

Mom: Uh-huh? (I get a chill down my spine. I don’t like the sound of this…)

Alex: Midterm grades are coming out the same day.  (Takes a deep breath and blinds me with the metal braces of his smile.)

Mom: Uh…huh… (Inflection on huh; A and I exchange knowing glances.)

Alex: You think they’ll make us go to confession tomorrow so if our parents kill us for poor grades, we can go straight to heaven?

Mom: Uh-oh. (Oh, well, got to give him credit for trying to make me laugh.)

source: http://www.dubuque.k12.ia.us/parents/ReportCard350.jpg

Update: Doing okay in math, but he’ll have to do much, much, much better in Filipino.

(Man, can anyone tell me why this boy thinks in English and is hopelessly terrible in his own language?)

Silencing the Savage Beast

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

I choose not to give Savage any more space and time; the less said about him, the better. 

Hear No Evil

Back Home

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

We’re back home and back to our everyday routines. Yet, before the last weekend fades into distant memory,  I want to thank all those who wished us well - Doc Mark, Casdok, Megamom, Leirs, Doc Ness, Beth (FXS Mom), Mari, and Odette — your prayers and well wishes are very much appreciated. :-)  Thank you, dear, dear friends. We had such a great time that already I am planning and saving up for the another weekend trip next month.

Last Friday morning, Alphonse woke up at the crack of dawn. He was too excited to sleep, I guess. He kept handing me a picture of ”car” and I had to repeatedly remind him that it was still too early to go anywhere. We sat down and looked at the picture schedule of his day and that seemed to quiet him down.

After a three-hour lesson in the morning, a leisurely lunch, and some play time, he knew it was time to go. He hurriedly dressed himself, slung his pecs notebook over his shoulder, and climbed into the back of the car, a silly grin plastered on his face as he waved happily to his nannies.

Thirty minutes into the car ride (we were not even out of the city limits), I took a peek at the back through the rearview mirror and was surprised to see both boys fast asleep. It’s not unusual to see Alex sleeping at the oddest hours- this boy sleeps as soon as the car starts- but Alphonse is another matter. Still, the day’s excitement was probably a little too much for him. Add the fact that he started his day long before the sun was up, and it  was understandable to catch him dozing off.

We got to our destination shortly before sunset. Alphonse spent a few minutes walking around the well-appointed hotel suite. He checked the mini-bar, flushed the toilet a few times, channel surfed, ate the complementary fruits, and paced the entire length of the room as if counting his steps. Then he insisted on opening the balcony door to catch a whiff of fresh sea air. He took three sniffs with his flaring nostrils, frowned at the thick, salty air that assailed his senses, then closed the door back to settle in on the airconditioned room. So much for nature.

Over the weekend, we were able to bring Alphonse everywhere. Alex volunteered to baby-sit while A and I have a quiet dinner but since I don’t trust two teenagers alone in a room together, we hauled them everywhere. Alex feigned hurt that I did not trust him to watch after Alphonse, and he seemed to get a kick from my response that if I catch both of them in a wild party with girls and drinking, I’d have to ground their a**es till they were in their thirties. :D

It was amazing to see Alphonse enjoy himself. The last trip we were in all together was almost two years ago, a few months before he went on “siege.” Since then, we’ve been wary about bringing him places, as new people, places, and experiences could set off a major tantrum. Lately, however, we’ve seen in him a renewed interest in the world. He’s been so much more attuned to others around him. And yes, his behavior has improved so much that most of the time, he now simply responds to verbal reminders on how to behave and act appropriately.

We were able to eat dinner at a Japanese restaurant and while he kept looking at the other tables, probably wondering why his food was taking a bit longer than he was used to, he did not whine at all nor did he attempt to grab someone else’s food. He played with memory cards until his food arrived, and when it did (a large order of tempura and a bowl of gyu saikoro don), he gobbled it up almost immediately. Not content, he begged for slices of Alex’s teriyaki chicken, and only after eating half of Alex’s food did he appear sated. Then he sat down quietly, taking in the conversations around him, till we were all finished.

It was the same thing when we brought him to fastfood joints. Here in Manila, drive-thrus and home delivery are commonly the methods of food acquisition we use, as they limit our interaction with other habitués of any dining facility. Over the weekend however, we discovered that Alphonse could now tolerate waiting periods, could eat independently, and best of all, would not grab at other people’s food or drinks. It was such a major stress reliever.

The trip without the nannies was a big test, true, but he seemed to enjoy the independence. Of course, I looked in on him while he bathed and dressed (I supervised), but I no longer needed to help him with a lot of things. Also, he used his communication notebook and pecs cards more consistently; we were surprised to find him “asking” for things and not simply waiting for it to be brought to him. And these were some of the lessons we brought home for his nannies. They were there to watch over him, to prompt him occasionally, to help him cope with the things in life, but they are not his hands or feet. Many things he will have to do by himself. It’s time to stop the babying and let him be the man he is destined to be.

Alex and I were reviewing our weekend pictures last night when he remarked, quite aptly, that our pictures seemed so mundane and would hardly merit any praise as travel pictures. (“Mom, you took pictures of the bathroom? Did you take one of the park? How about the beach?”) He didn’t want some of his pictures shown, the ones where I catch him holding on to his PSP as a fifth appendage, and I had to twist his arm a little (not literally) to convince him to allow me to show people how he sleeps with his mouth open. I certainly agree with his astute observations; I did forget to take shots of the lovely beach and the verdant park. Yet, I explained to him, that this last weekend was not about the destination but about the family, not about the sights but the journey. And if those 48 hours were any indication of what our future will be as a family living and loving and thriving with autism, then I can look forward to tomorrow with inextinguishable hope.


Road Trip

Friday, July 18th, 2008

We’re taking the kids on a weekend getaway, only this time, Alphonse’s nannies will have to be left behind. I think of this as some sort of a test we have to pass as a family and the only criterion for passing would be surviving without help for at least 48 hours. I’ve noticed how we’ve all become a little too dependent on the help lately and I think it’s time we shake things up a little bit.  

Then too, this will help us prepare for that trip sometime in the future when it’ll have to be just us for a month or so. If things go well over the weekend, then it’s time to take Alphonse to other destinations.

So far, I’ve got everything packed and ready to go. Alphonse’s bag is always a production number by itself and this one took me longest to put together. While he has his own overnight bag filled with clothes, I have to bring another, albeit, slightly smaller bag to house his emergency needs like a change of clothes and underwear (for “accidents”), disposable pee bags, timer, food, candies, bubbles, his pecs notebook, Lysol wipes, tissues, a small towel, a squirt bottle of soap and a foldable cup, his medicines, and his iPod. See what I mean by production number? 

But hey, no worries. I love the idea of Alphonse stepping out into the world some more. I know he loves it too. Last weekend, when we brought him out to go to the mall to get some supplies, he didn’t stop singing the entire time. He was using his falsettos, throwing off those high notes in remarkable fashion, singing a wordless tune which mirrored his happiness. He held my hands and walked and skipped happily with me and his dad. And despite some minor problems (people literally jumped out of his way when they heard him, as if they were afraid, or many, as usual, stared impolitely), he enjoyed his short trip to the mall so much that the good feeling stayed with him for a few more days.

I hope this trip works out well for him again. I’m cutting his classes short today (we leave after lunch). I’ve brought some of his things so we could continue classes while on the road. Wish us luck!

Mr. P and the U.P. Chapel

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

The Philippine Daily Inquirer carried the other day, June 30, 2008, a most beautiful piece written by Sibol’s beloved Mr. P entitled “What I Learned: The Gospel of the UP Chapel according to Mr. Pagsi.”. You can find it here. Please look up the link, and see how this 81-year-old teacher continues to inspire all those whose lives he touches.

Mabuhay ka, Mr. Pagsi!

For Leirs

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

a fragile lifeMy friend Leirs and her family are going through a very tough time. I would like to ask all those who pass by this site today to say a little prayer for her, her husband, and their family in their time of grief.

Dear friend, know that you and your family are in our prayers always.