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

Archive for the 'Gadget Geek' Category

Guitar Hero-Kitty Rockin’ Momma

Friday, October 31st, 2008

This is a DIY project I did over the weekend, using a laptop vinyl skin I purchased online. I first created a template using tracing paper, and transferred the pattern on the vinyl. I also hand cut all the holes with a cutter. The entire project lasted more than hour but it was worth it. Now I rock to Guitar Hero inspired by Hello Kitty. What could be cooler than that?

Hello Kitty + Guitar Hero= Guitar Hero-Kitty Rockin’ Momma

Wii Update

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

My Wii’s not broken! (*heaves a sigh of relief*)

Turns out that the power supply shorted out (must be the beastly heat) but the Wii itself is untouched. :-) A is bringing me home a new power supply thingie tonight. I can’t wait to get back to my Guitar Hero nights and Wii Fit Days!

Guitar Hero-rockin\' Kittymama

Kittymama’s rockin’ hot!

“Nano Nano”

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Mork And MindyNo, this is not an homage to the seventies’ hit show Mork and Mindy, though I am reminded of it each time I hear the word Nano. Mork (Robin Williams) and Mindy (Pam Dawber) brought into our consciousness a sense of quickfire humor, as well as the cultural hallmark of the era, the “Nanu-Nanu” (Orkan for “hello”) and its accompanying hand signal. And while I would love to reminisce more on my era of growing up, this post isn’t really about Mork or Mindy, but about Apple’s iPod Nano.

I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire the new 3rd generation iPod nano in pink, a gift from my gadget-geek husband who knew that his gadget-geek wife appreciated, well, duh, gadgets. I’m not much of a flowers-and-chocolate kind of person, though he does buy me flowers weekly (mums and chrysanthemums), and he indulges my sweet tooth very often, perhaps much too often. :-) But for special occasions, we both agree that while flowers may be beautiful and romantic, they wilt and die all too soon, and decadently rich chocolates in a fancy box get eaten just as fast as they are unwrapped, the sweetness gone before they are even savored. As such, nothing beats a gift of a gadget (or a household appliance.) Rather unromantic, some would say, but not for a gal who get chills down the spine just from the letters P-S-P.

For Valentine’s Day this year, A got me three gifts:
a.) a Hello Kitty Nintendo DS Case to add to my collection of Kitty stuff.

Kitty Ds Cases

b.) a Belkin USB laptop cooling stand which I soooo love because my laptop does not overheat anymore even after four hours of The Sims2  It makes me wonder, how did I ever live without it? (You can see a great review of the item here.)Belkin USB Laptop Cooler

c.) and an eight GB 3rd generation pink iPod Nano.

Pink Nano 3rd gen

This is my 3rd ipod in as many years. The first was a pink iPod mini, followed a year later by a 1st generation iPod Nano in black. (See it below, dressed in a Kitty case.) The mini and Nano1 still work perfectly (the batteries haven’t died out yet, thank God!) but the new iPod is a most welcome gift, as Alphonse will be the direct beneficiary of an older unit. Just to show you how attached he is to pink (okay, okay, blame the mother…), here is a snippet of the conversation we had today.A Mini and Two Nanos

Me: Look, Alphonse, two iPods! (Mom points to mini and Nano1)

Alphonse nods. “Yes”

Me: Do you want to have one?

Alphonse nods again. “Yes”

Me: You can choose which one you like. Black or pink? (Holds one on each hand.)

Alphonse flashes a big grin, and shyly points to… pink.

Me: You can have the black one. (Mom instantly regrets giving the child a choice. Talk about confusing the poor child!)

Alphonse shakes his head emphatically (“NO!”), then makes a grab for the pink mini.

Me: Well… okay then, pink it is. 

He then puts the earphones in his ear and motions for me to play his favorite songs from the Joseph King of Dreams soundtrack. He is in bliss.

Ah, a son who loves pink. What did I do right?

Prelude to a Tag: Onscreen Romance

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Written seven years ago in 2001, this article chronicles our family’s love affair with movies. Just a little prelude, my friends, to share with you the beginnings of our own family ritual: Family Movie Nights.

I never used to go to the movies.

As a child, I grew up with a staple of B movies in the glorious decade of the Betamax. My parents were rather liberal with their children’s viewing fare and gave us discretion over what movies we wanted to watch. My brothers’ choices were those with blood, decapitation and zombies in them, while my younger sisters opted for cartoons.

Between unrestrained violence and an inordinate amount of cutesy babies prancing in circles singing “Maria, Maria, ya-ya-ya-ya-ya,” it was hardly surprising that I lost my taste for the movies shortly after I turned 10.

Fact or Fiction?I remember, however, that as a child, my personal favorites were those comprising the Faces of Death series, you know, those movies on beta tapes that were all about death and pathology.

The rare times our family of seven would troop to the cinemas for an honest-to-goodness full-length movie, it would be to watch Superman and its sequels. So, going to the movies was never ever a family affair. Superman

I never met a certified movie addict until I fell in love with my last boyfriend (now my husband). We weren’t allowed to go on dates for the first two years of our relationship, so watching movies was absolutely out of the question. Well, okay, I must confess, we did see a movie once.

Platoon - first official dateWe went to see Platoon, I remember, but because we were so scared that my parents would find out, we never watched another movie until my dad gave us his permission 20 months later.

We watched a movie or two every week afterwards, but I thought back then that watching movies was just something a couple does to spend time together. Whenever we had some free time, my boyfriend would pick up the paper, open to the movies section and point to the latest one he wanted to see.

Yeah, sure, sometimes he asked me what I wanted to watch, but since I had no firm opinions one way or the other, he had the run of the show. I figured, he loved movies, what of it? He stopped smoking for me and gave up drinking altogether (not that he loved alcohol to begin with).

He loved books as much as I did; he was cute, and he kissed well, so I thought better to let him be with the movies thing. Sure, sometimes I’d fall asleep and drool while watching a movie, but he never took that against me. He always thought I was fun to be with, awake or asleep, at the movies.

Then I married him. I suppose it came slowly enough. My parents bequeathed us a host of brand-new appliances to start us out, and my generous father threw in his extra Sony Betamax player. We started out by renting movies at a nearby video store, but more often than not, my husband still preferred the big screen, a movie date with him and me and his other “girlfriends,” Snickers and Baby Ruth.

When I got pregnant, however, my solicitous husband thought better than to jostle and squeeze his balloon-of-a-wife along the narrow aisles of the moviehouse.

And that was when he really got started.

I knew that my husband loved movies the way I loved Hello Kitty. It was something he enjoyed immensely. He could go on and on about movies he loved as a child, the Star Wars Trilogy and Jaws to name a few.Star Wars Trilogy Episodes IV-VI

 He could dissect the characters’ emotions and motivations based on their on-screen interactions and prevailing circumstances. He was as interested in the process by which the movie came about as he was by the final product. He loved the movies for everything they were. Still, rather than attempt to over-intellectualize things, he simply enjoyed the hours of relaxation and vicarious living the movies offered.

He Said, She SaidLike I said, when I got too fat to go out on my first pregnancy, my husband rented movies for us to watch at home. Then he bought movies for us at the mall, kicking off a collection that would dramatically increase in just a few years. I think his first purchase was He Said, She Said, a symbolic commemoration of our status as a certified “till-death-do-us-part” couple.

As his expertise in video hardware increased in proportion to his earning power, he also made personal copies of movies he wanted to collect but could not find original copies of. Pretty soon, what started out as a few Beta tapes in a shoebox gave way to an extensive collection.

Then the Beta format died. When the video stores’ array of Beta tapes dwindled to give way to new VHS stocks, my husband jumped at this opportunity to purchase a VHS player/recorder. What was a collector to do? He made VHS copies of the movies he had on Betamax, adding original videos as he found them.

Simultaneously, his interest in laser discs grew. He was often torn between his laser discs and his VHS tapes; fortunately, we had reached some sort of understanding on the financial liberties he could take with his collection. He bought the Star Wars Trilogy and James Cameron’s movies on laser, as well as the Disney classics, excusing his purchases as gifts for his newborn son. These were his Must-Have movies, or movies he could watch over and over again everyday.

Groundhog DayOf course, sometimes he would excuse his new purchases as being simply too good to pass up, like the time he bought a brand-new Groundhog Day laser disc for four hundred pesos, a steal if ever there was one. So, if you’ve ever seen a grown man dancing on the aisles of Astrovision while holding videos and laser discs, then you’ve probably met my husband.

Pretty soon, my husband’s collection grew to almost video store-like proportions. We still have some old movies on Betamax, though only for sentimental reasons, what with our player having heaved its last breath four years ago.

We have almost two hundred videos on VHS and around a hundred on laser discs. It got to a point where we had to transform our bedroom into his storage and viewing room, and we had to buy new furniture just to accommodate his unwieldy collection.

 Most weekends, we had to pull him out of the bedroom to stop him from going through his collection and watching them over and over again, one by one. Most irksome was his love for Titanic and Twister, movies you wouldn’t catch me dead watching.

On days when he was feeling particularly amorous, he would set his chosen format of Titanic (he has both original VHS and laser disc versions) and watch with rapt attention, oblivious to the gagging, retching noises I made beside him. So, on the day my husband declared his intention to curb his movie addiction, I heaved a sigh of relief.Titanic

The truth was, my devious darling stopped buying movies to save up for a VCD player and a DVD player. In the meantime, he satiated his need to watch movies by simply renting at the video store.

And when he finally managed to buy his dream equipment after scrimping on his bonuses and setting aside part of his salary every month for around half a year, he couldn’t resist laying off the software. Needless to say, he was able to build a considerable collection of Chinese movies on VCD and just about everything else on DVD.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that my husband’s favorite store is Astrovision. We’ve been to different branches of this store almost every week this past year, and often, he goes home with one or two chosen DVD purchases. It really is an undying love for him.

I don’t think love for the movies is genetic, but somehow (through osmosis, perhaps?), he’s passed his passion to our eldest son. Alex guards his own DVD collection of Disney movies and Japanese anime with zealous vigilance and vehemently objects at idle threats of selling them off to Disney lovers. Surprisingly, his favorite movie is about twin girls (The Parent Trap), an amazing complement to his Rurouni Kenshin videos.Samurai X

My husband and son gang up on me every night, forcing me to watch a movie they’ve scheduled for the night. Weekends are no different. These days, I have two couch potatoes to drag and pull out of the house. Most of the time, I win handily in what I consider to be a tribute to female persuasive owers. It turns out, however, that he actually lets me win so we can scout for more DVDs. It’s always a compromise, then; he gets what he wants and I get my weekend out of the house.

I’ve been married for ten years this month, and as much as I’d hate to admit it, these movies have added a touch of excitement to our lives.Goonies

When Harry Met SallyTruth to tell, I derive a certain amount of security from knowing that tonight, tomorrow night, or even the night after is another movie night. Another movie night with the loves of my life. Romantic nights with When Harry Met Sally, adventure nights with The Goonies, Sci-fi nights with The Matrix — when I think about how our choices in movies have grown with our marriage, I sigh in bliss.

The MAtrix

But, hey, don’t tell my husband I told you that.


Update (Seven Years Later):

Alex’s tastes in movies have certainly grown with him. While Rurouni Kenshin will always be a favorite, he’s given up The Parent Trap for more adult fare. The Disney movies have been passed on to Alphonse, who will remain forever, a Mouseketeer.

The last of the vhs tapes and vcds are boxed up now. There simply is no more room in the house. DVDs rule our home as we wait for more blu-ray discs and players to flood the market.

And yes, we now have original vhs, vcd, laser disc, and dvd versions of  Titanic.

And now, we take a break…

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007


My response to Teacher Julie’s tag will come out in the next few days. I am currently Santa-mommy in the house, which means I have to do the following things before I can unwind and blog again:

1. Finish the tree and take pictures. (This year: Hello Kitty theme with handmade bling-blings!)

2. Change the living room curtains in anticipation of Christmas guests. (*dread*)

3. Get back to serious work and finish my reviews. (I have been playing hooky again! Boohoo!)

4. Wrap gifts. (Not enough yet.)

5. Shop for more gifts. (I no longer like this part.)

6. Give myself a Guitar Hero hour (or hours)! :-)

Guitar Hero Legends of Rock Wii Bundle

I got this as Christmas present number ahm, uhm, ehrm–really, who’s counting?– last night! Hooray! 

Update: I had to change the picture because the giftgiver (A the husband) insisted that I show the correct one (or else my journalistic integrity would be at stake). What I got was the Wii bundle (purchase from Datablitz).

Crossing The Game Divide

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Animal Crossing Screen Shots- Kitty in Dogtowne 

I got my pink Nintendo DS Lite last year as an anniversary present. Bundled with the handheld console were games that my husband chose for me, among them Nintendogs and Animal Crossing Wild World. And just like my sleepless nights with my Sony PSP (black at first) a few months before that (I got the pink one for Valentine’s Day this year), the DS Lite became a new and consuming passion.

On Christmas Day last year, my eldest son got his own DS Lite, and soon after, on New Year’s Day, my husband got one for himself too. When summer vacation rolled by, it was time to test the wireless multiplayer ability of the DS Lite. When we were feeling frisky and playful, we played against each other in Mario Kart races that lasted for hours. (Alex always chose Bowser, his parents were always versions of Yoshi in different race karts.) Yet on some nights, as we played quietly together, we would visit each other in the Animal Crossing community I created, Dogtowne. There, I was Kitty, Alex was Alpha, and Papa was, well, the unimaginatively named, hmmm, Papa. We would trade fruits, give gifts, help dig fossils, visit friends, write letters, hit rocks, catch insects, plant trees– name it, we did it in our virtual world. Somehow, I could sense that Alex was happiest on those nights, when in our make-believe world, he was the sole center of our existence if only for a short time.

And this got me thinking last night, while reading through the Happy Blog. I wanted to share with you a story which was featured last month on the Happy Blog, but which was originally from a 2005 entry of a Korean weblog called Loliel the Black Onion Brigade. Here is the comic strip  from the Happy Blog but I’m also including links to the videos from Gametrailers.com and YouTube. (more…)

Wanted: Indestructible Earphones

Monday, November 19th, 2007

I love music. I’ve been singing since I can remember and once, just once, in my young life, I was even offered a professional recording contract.  (Scout’s honor!) Unfortunately, being a minor then, I was not allowed to make my own decisions and my parents turned down that lucrative offer for me to step into the limelight. Still, a part of me can’t help but think…hmmm…what would have turned out different if I had?

Despite that minor glitch in my otherwise predictably orderly life, I continued to love music. And it’s no surprise that I found a husband who nurtured the same interest.  Truth to tell, my husband can do a mean rendition of Bryan Adams’ “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?” (The line “when you see your unborn children in her eyes, you know you really love a woman,” completely floors me. Such poetry in a song! But I digress…)  And it came as no surprise, too, that our offspring carried the same genetic predisposition for music. Alex, my firstborn, is a natural baritone, with a deep love for theater music, the opera, and a little of Taylor Hicks’ soul.

Silence began to fill the house when the little one came along.

Alphonse, even at infancy, was highly sensitive to sound. He could not tolerate loud music and he went bonkers when noise overwhelmed him. More often than not, he would cringe in fear and cover his ears when something particularly loud and offensive was within auditory range. When that wasn’t enough, he would go into a fullblown rampage, destroying everything within reach of his hands, wreaking havoc and chaos in our lives. When he was unreachable in his tantrums, we learned to quiet down and diminish our sounds. As the music and noise of ordinary life were turned down in our home, we found out, sadly, that the laughter died too.  Thankfully, over the years, we’ve been able to desensitize his hearing and slowly, the music has returned back into our lives.

Despite his limitations in communication, Alphonse can readily give feedback on what type of music he wants. Josh Groban’s first album, Josh Groban, was a shoo in. So too, Sheryl Crow’s Wildflower album. Andrea Bocelli’s Amore is a Yes. Sharon Cuneta’s Isn’t It Romantic is a Yes. We soon found out that easy listening songs are okay, but he readily grunts his dissent with rock music. His favorite yet? The soundtrack of Joseph, King of Dreams. This one never fails to soothe him.

Because of his sensory issues, we were afraid to let him come near his brother’s iPod or mine. We were afraid that the iPod would somehow channel sounds a little too forcefully on his sensory-excitable hearing. But having read one mom’s account of how her son was able to  deal with his sound hypersensitivity with an iPod , we crossed our fingers and for once, gladly let him use Alex’s old iPod nano. IT WORKED! (♥Thank you, Mom-NOS!♥)

Alphonse enjoying the iPod

Where Alphonse would shout and scream at the top of his lungs when the noise of our home overwhelms him (sometimes, just the drone of the vacuum or the blender is enough to unhinge him), we show him the iPod and in an instant, he quiets down, asks for the earphones (by pointing, so, remind me to make a PECS card of it)), slips them on, and smiles as the music fills his ears. He is a completely different child with the music that he loves.

Ah, but as usual, nothing is ever as easy as pie. Just this weekend, Alphonse was using the iPod while we were waiting for his father to come get us in the car. Alex wanted to lie down on Alphonse’s lap because he was drowsy with sleep. I cautioned him against doing that. Alex is sooo big compared to his younger brother: Alphonse might not appreciate the extra weight on his lap. As unpredictable as autism is, I can predict certain instances that are most likely to draw a negative reaction from Alphonse. Sure as the sun follows rain, Alphonse took a quick peek at his brother’s head on his lap, tousled big brother’s hair, exposed a bit of ear, and … nipped it.

No, he didn’t draw blood but it was enough to make Alex howl in pain and anger. Alphonse jerked back in surprise and indignation, his face registering a look of “what the heck is your problem, bro?” Alex continued to sputter in anger despite my admonitions for him to quiet down. And Alphonse, angered by his brother’s reaction, took the earphones off and ripped it in four pieces. (Picture only shows three; these were all I retrieved from the trash.) 


Then, he smiled sweetly at me.

Oh, well. Guess we only have to look for indestructible earphones for the iPod now.

Christmas in November

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday. Counting the years we’ve known each other in childhood, the years we became best friends in high school and college, the years we were officially together as a couple, and the years we’ve been married, we’re a year past our “silver” anniversary. Not bad for best friends, really.

We celebrate many anniversaries. The first time he said “I love you.” (January) ♥

The first time I said “I love you.” (February) ♥

The first time we held hands. (March)♥

The first time we kissed. (May) ♥ 

The first time we got married. (September)♥

The second time we got married. (November)♥

Name it, we remember it! When I think about how we find a cause to celebrate almost every day of our lives together, I cannot help but be grateful for this sweet, loving, faithful man.

And to sweeten the icing, he gives me the best gifts ever!

I don’t mean to focus on material gifts alone, although he is an expert when it comes to things I need or want. He can almost sense them intuitively, even when I just need the most basic things like underwear  or lingerie (imagine a grown man buying his wife plus-size underwear and you know he’s one secure individual). More than this, however, he delights in buying me gadgets: cellular phones (this year’s gifts, see picture), digital planners, laptops, gaming consoles (Nintendo DS, PSP, Wii). Gadget geeks, we truly are.

Christmas In November

And while I treasure each and every gift he gives me, the best gifts I remember are those that involve little money and just a lot of love. Like the time he serenaded me with Josh Groban’s You’re Still You at six in the morning. Or the time he sang and recorded my favorite songs in a crowded recording kiosk at the mall, at the risk of humiliating himself in front of everyone listening. Still, one of the best gifts he has ever given me (and he has given me a LOT!) was a song, written in the beginning of our relationship.

Please don’t doubt you’re beautiful/ There’s springtime in your eyes/ Your every touch a poet’s line/ With love in every smile…

He sees my beauty, even when I am at my ugliest. He loves me, even with all my imperfections, flaws, and shortcomings.

With a friend, lover, and husband like him, who says you can’t have Christmas in November?