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

Archive for the 'Celebrations' Category

My Gratitude Knows No Bounds

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Thank you!

To all my friends, old and new, who wished me a happy birthday, whether through this blog, or through Multiply, Friendster, text message, or email, many, many thanks for your well wishes and prayers. I will post pictures from my birthday celebration(s) as soon as I upload and sort them. :-) A and I had a really great time! 

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!

Mommy’s DAYS Out Part III

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

InvitationSunday, we brought Alex back to school early morning for Mass and more practice with his friends. I squeezed in a few errands after that and by early afternoon, I was dead tired. Three days of nonstop activities were too much for me. I was beginning to feel my age (Alex’s favorite line), it seemed, so I allowed myself a power nap before I got ready to go to Alex’s performance .

There’s a side story to this, one worth telling. I was so sleepy Sunday afternoon that even as I was debating with myself on whether to set the alarm on my clock or not, I had dozed off. I figured that I would wake up long before the time I needed to get myself ready. And so I slept soundly for the first time in days, drool collecting at the corners of my mouth, until I awakened suddenly…to the sound of my mother-in-law’s voice. Yes, my mother-in-law, now gone almost three years, and her distinct voice saying loudly and clearly “wake up…gonna be late.” I was startled into wakefulness. I jumped out of bed, put on make-up in a hurry, and made it with enough time to spare. (I did pass by the church ossuary to say thanks to Mom.)

Alex as Marat in “The Bashkir And His Prize”

(Alex, at right, as Marat, and friend R, as the General) 

And what can I tell you about “Unang Lipad?” Alex was part of  the play The Bashkir And His Prize, one of three plays they put up that night. This was a story of a Bashkir general who wanted too much but lost all in the end, an  adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s short story “How Much Land Do You Need?” Alex played  Marat, one of the three Bashkir folk the General  met along the way. 

I was in awe at my son’s ease on stage and the way he said his lines with conviction. He exuded confidence so visibly that I was dumbstruck at his ability to relate to the audience. I’ve never seen him that way before. The Alex I know has always been a little reticent and often ill-at-ease with large crowds. Yet that night, I saw my son as I had never seen him before- a self-assured young man whose talents clearly shone through. He acted with flair, sang with a passion, and even danced (and believe me,  he never dances).

I was also amazed at the other aspirants and I felt as proud of them as I did my son. It was difficult to believe that these polished actors were 14 or 15-year-old boys, mere high school freshmen. Their confidence and poise on stage were unbelievable!

Singing Their Hearts Out

(The Aspirants)

Towards the end, just before a series of song and dance routines where every aspirant  was allowed to show off his talents, they spoofed the seniors of the Theater  Club, and the crowd went wild with their almost-perfect impersonations.

(see Alex below, in yellow Kobe Bryant jersey)Spoof Play

Spoofing Mr. P

(even Mr. P had his own impersonator!)

The theater was full that night and as the guests departed, the boys lined up to thank those who made it to their first performance.

Goodbye and Thanks to the Audience

Afterwards, A and I snuck back inside the theater to watch the boys in a huddle with their beloved mentor, Mr. P. Surrounded by a circle of boys, Mr. P prayed with them, lavished the boys with praise and encouragement, and dispensed timely advice.  The boys’ faces shone with respect and pride: they had made their teacher proud.

Post-play Huddle

The Dream Team with Juniors

We made it home near midnight, tired, hungry, but happy. To see Alex welcomed in a circle of friends filled our hearts with joy. Here, at last, he has made a place for himself under the sun. It was a beginning.

Mommy’s DAYS Out Part II

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Welcome Banner

Saturday was Alex’s Family Day. Originally, we had planned for Alex and myself to be there at nine and stay till four in the afternoon, and Alphonse and A to follow only at lunch time to cut on waiting time. With Alex’s theater club working overtime, however, we had to scuttle our plans and squeeze a few hours with them before Alex went back to acting practice.

Go,Go V!Alex and I were part of the Blue Team, which, before we left, was tied with the Yellow Team at 1-1. The Yellow Team trashed us horribly in father-and-son basketball- 33 to our 16 points- but then again, they had a deeper bench and could make substitutions readily when someone was tired. I think we had a better team (our boys were really good players), but because some of our dads had knee injuries, our playing dads were forced to stretch themselves to their limits. The Yellow Team was so confident of a win that they even substituted a mom for one of the dads (rubbing salt to our injured egos);  V sure showed us how to play basketball in style. (Go, Go, V!)

The Blue Team won in the milk-drinking contest. I wish I could show you how cute our boys looked chugging down milk from baby bottles (!) but we all promised them that they will never ever find humiliating photographs of themselves on the Internet. :-)

My Gorgeous Friends C, C,and S

Before Alex and I left, we shared lunch with the class (26 boys and their families came) and took a souvenir photo of all of us. The food was delicious and plentiful; it seemed everyone brought something for everyone else. We had lunch, picnic style, under the shade, picking off from each other’s plates, feasting on E’s pork adobo, and C’s chicken galantina and green Indian mangoes with bagoong (shrimp paste), and many other delightful dishes from our generous co-parents.

B FamilyAlex and I missed the last games of the day, held after lunch, as we had to rush back to school for more practice. Gorgeous S sent me a message a little after four to give me the good news! The Blue Team won! Yahoo!

Recreated iPhone messageMore on Mommy’s DAYS Out Day Three next…

There We Are

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Titanic with Daniel Jack and Kitty Rose

Dearest A,

Today, I woke up with a sense of sadness hanging over me. This is the first Valentine’s Day in years that you will not be home with me. I can’t remember a time when the day didn’t mean a day off from work for you, and as mushy as it sounded, everyone understood. Valentine’s Day is our day.

On Valentine’s Day every year, we would indulge ourselves in the comforting rituals of married life. There was the occasional movie or the romantic dinner date with flowers and candlelight, but more often than not, we simply enjoyed each other at home, our feet touching gently as we recline in a pile of pillows, Alphonse often snuggled between us. We would talk and joke and sing out loud. We would read, look at pictures, play a game, or watch a movie or two together (Titanic, again?). This used to be our day. Yet, today, I am alone at home.

I’m not ungrateful, honey, just a tad wistful. Sometimes, I wish it were so that I could go for hours of a day without thinking of you, but my resolve always weakens. In the middle of a busy day, filled with the hectic hours of everyday life, I would find myself thinking of the last time we kissed or even the last time we talked beyond the superficial, mundane events of our lives. Too often these days, as we work hard to make a home and a life for our children and ourselves, there have been little, precious time to be just husband and wife, just lovers, or just best friends. We wear the constant hats of Father and Mother, and these roles, while beloved, can be all-consuming.

Today, however, while you are steep in work and I busy myself with a million and one chores at home, I will choose to live in the space of thankfulness. That today, as far apart as we are, I feel your love resonate louder and stronger, echoing through the walls of our home, and exploding through the hugs and kisses of a little boy. I will choose to remember that despite our imperfect lives, I have you to lean on, my soft spot to fall on.

And so I wait for you to come home again, on Valentine’s Day. The movie will be on when you come home. Dinner will be cooking. The bed will be warm and comfy.

And I will wait for you.
As I wait for Love.
As I wait for forever.

A Valentine for Autism

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Kitty’s Valentine for AutismWhenever people meet Alphonse for the first time, they can’t help but ask questions. Most of the time, their first question would be, “Was he born with it?” to which I would reply with a straight, no-nonsense “Yes.” While Alphonse was officially diagnosed at eighteen months, looking back, I can’t help but see some of the signs. Like how fond he was of squinting at lights even at three months old. Or how, at eight months, he’d play with the rotor blades of his Fisher-Price helicopter, twirling it round and round and round, blissful in his seemingly endless escape from the demands of the world. Little signs, yes, for Alphonse was still connected enough with us and it was easy enough to ignore them as merely quirks or eccentricities in his personality. After all, who among us doesn’t have a flaw or two?

Then they would ask more questions, like “How did you know?” and “What are the signs of autism?” These are easy enough to answer, and for the most part, these require straightforward replies that smack of textbooks.

Once in a while, though, an unexpected question blows me away, and I lose almost all poise and polish as its absurdity completely floors me.

“Do you believe that autism is caused by diablos (demons)?”

A few days ago, I came face to face with a man who asked me this question. He had come into the house to do some repair, and since my husband was not home at the time, I was left to supervise his work. He was a chatty fellow and he noticed Alphonse running playfully around the house. He started asking questions when Alphonse came up to him and gestured to him to play.

At first, it seemed benign enough, and I wanted to be polite. From general questions about my son’s condition, he segued into spirituality. We agreed on some things, and despite some differences in our religious beliefs (he calls himself a born-again Christian, while I think of myself as Catholic Christian), we both believed that the path to salvation is one and the same. He quoted scripture with a flourish. I smiled despite his increasingly insistent tone because he reminded me so much of a Bible-toting preacher. But then, he took a step further than I liked with the discussion, by asking me the worst question in the world to ask a mother of a child with autism.

“Do you believe that autism is caused by diablos (demons)?”

My eyes widened in disbelief and I was forced to cover my gaping mouth and pretend a yawn. I didn’t want to offend this man whom I’ve only just met. Yet I didn’t want to stay there saying nothing at all in my son’s defense.

He obviously didn’t notice my increasing discomfort. He continued along the same line of thought: that man’s sicknesses, disabilities, and impairments are the work of demons and we only have to believe and have faith to be healed. That children born with disabilities are the handiwork of evil running loose in this world, challenging God. He made it sound oh-so-perfectly reasonable, but it is precisely this narrow-minded, perverse view of autism that has caused many a child to die from ignorant, intolerant, and relentless pursuits for a cure.

In truth, I was itching for a full-scale showdown. My beliefs against his. While I certainly do not discount the possibility of evil forces in this world, I bristle at the thought that my son’s condition is an offshoot of the devil’s work. This would imply that my son is “evil” at the core, and that he, or we, his parents, somehow deserved this. That autism is a “punishment.” That autism, like other disabilities, is justice meted on the “guilty.”

I looked him in the eye and politely responded, “Excuse me, sir, but I would have to stop you there. I do not believe in what you say. My son’s spirit is perfect, and if he is who he is, it is because God made him that way. Not to teach him a lesson, but to teach us — the people around him — lessons on tolerance, forgiveness, love, and mercy. He was made imperfect to perfect the spirits of those around him. He is not of the devil’s; he is not of your Diablo’s.” I was shaking then. It was all I could do not to ask him to leave.

Ruminating upon this experience, I have had to ask myself questions that seek the core of my faith. If I did not believe that autism is a manifestation of a spiritual condition, why, then, did I bring my son to healing nuns and priests for blessing? Why did I stand in line and bear more than five hours of waiting for Alphonse to be prayed upon by Father Suarez last year? Why did I seek Sr. Raquel? Am I a hypocrite? To believe that my son is perfect and yet look for a “cure?”

In the beginning, when I was much younger and naïve and yes, stupid, I looked for a “cure” wherever I could find it. In religion, in science, wherever, whatever. And like many other parents who desperately wanted to change their children into the world’s definition of “normal,” I fell into this trap of my own making. As I grew in love, wisdom, and spirit, I realized that as much as Alphonse needed help in coping with the world, I needed to accept him and embrace him as he is. More than the autism and the host of challenges that come with it, Alphonse will always be, first and foremost, my son.

And so, when I sought Father Suarez last year, or Sister Raquel or Father Corsi many years before that, I did not pray for Alphonse to be healed of his autism. I prayed that Alphonse may find his happiness. I prayed for an end to his hurting, to his anger and violence. I prayed that Alphonse learn of how great our love is for him, and knowing this, find solace and comfort in our arms when he is fearful of things. I prayed that he know his parents would move heaven and earth to help him and his brother be the best that they can be.

No, I no longer pray for a cure. Today, I pray for tolerance and acceptance in a world that sees beauty only in the perfect and whole. I pray for a little slice of the world, where Alphonse, and many other beautiful children like him, whole or not, normal or differently abled, can revel in the gifts that have been bestowed by our merciful Creator. And I pray for all the love the world can muster for my son, on Valentine’s Days he will never fully experience, and for every day of his life.

Happy Valentine’s Day, angel of our lives. Papa, Mama, and Kuya love you so much.