Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Twas a Xmas party,...

It's always busy in the Figueroa house at Coralgum Place on X'mas day.

Without any other guests, we alone have 11 grand kids aged from 11 down to 9 months: AJ, Joshua, Jessica, Andrei Joel, Jacob, Jerome, Jorel, Joanna, Jacinta, Julia and Miya Jaye (we have 6 boys and 5 girls), 4 Figueroa kids: Joel, Joanne, Jovy and Josef, 4 in-laws: Gina, Patrick, John and Sarah (the spouses) and my parents Jess and Des Figueroa ---------------> which makes a total of 21 people in one house.

You can defnitely call it party ha? lets see if there is an addition next year hahhahahahha! unahan,....

Here are the family pics:

Kuya Joel and Ate Gina with their kids AJ, Joshua, Jessica and Andrei Josef

Patrick and Joanne Yap and their boys: Jacob, Jerome and Jorel

John and Jovy Sebastian
with their pretty daughters Joanna and Jacinta.

Josef and Sarah Figueroa
with their pretty daughters Julia and Miya Jaye

Of course the grand parents just was bowled over with all the grandchildren all eleven of them.

As always for the 4 families to get the Xmas cash that Papa prepares for us we needed to find the clue from the card he gave us (inside the card he made a Xmas tree shape using dollar coins). He told us the clue was in the card in front (will insert pic later when I have taken one).

In the end it was Josef that figured out the winter scene and picked up the clue as cold or freezing. He then went through the freezer and found my father eclipse chewing gum (this was the clue to get the Xmas envelope). Incidentally the eclipse had ICE written on it to describe its flavor --- quite smart for him to think this one through -- he gave us 10 minutes to find it and good thing Josef thought of it... and then we all got ours. Jovy was lucky last and got nervous she wasnt getting her cash too.... Last year, Papa hid it behind the wedding pictures that mom displays of all of us in the living room. Patrick figured it out that last Xmas then.

It was a blast but we were all weary we wouldnt get the cash hahahaha......
Here are the family shots with the inlaws

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Moms who have special children.. a good read....

To Wonderful Mothers with a Special/Gifted Child like me...

1. I am first and foremost a child. I have autism. I am not primarily "autistic."
My autism is only one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person. Are you a person with thoughts, feelings and many talents, or are you just fat (overweight), myopic (wear glasses) or klutzy (uncoordinated, not good at sports)? Those may be things that I see first when I meet you, but they are not necessarily what you are all about.As an adult, you have some control over how you define yourself. If you want to single out a single characteristic, you can make that known. As a child, I am still unfolding. Neither you nor I yet know what I may be capable of. Defining me by one characteristic runs the danger of setting up an expectation that may be too low. And if I get a sense that you don't think I "can do it," my natural response will be: Why try?

2. My sensory perceptions are disordered. Sensory integration may be the most difficult aspect of autism to understand, but it is arguably the most critical. It his means that the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of everyday that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me. The very environment in which I have to live often seems hostile. I may appear withdrawn or belligerent to you but I am really just trying to defend myself. Here is why a "simple" trip to the grocery store may be hell for me:My hearing may be hyper-acute. Dozens of people are talking at once. The loudspeaker booms today's special. Musak whines from the sound system. Cash registers beep and cough, a coffee grinder is chugging. The meat cutter screeches, babies wail, carts creak, the fluorescent lighting hums. My brain can't filter all the input and I'm in overload!My sense of smell may be highly sensitive. The fish at the meat counter isn't quite fresh, the guy standing next to us hasn't showered today, the deli is handing out sausage samples, the baby in line ahead of us has a poopy diaper, they're mopping up pickles on aisle 3 with ammonia….I can't sort it all out. I am dangerously nauseated.

Because I am visually oriented (see more on this below), this may be my first sense to become overstimulated. The fluorescent light is not only too bright, it buzzes and hums. The room seems to pulsate and it hurts my eyes. The pulsating light bounces off everything and distorts what I am seeing -- the space seems to be constantly changing. There's glare from windows, too many items for me to be able to focus (I may compensate with "tunnel vision"), moving fans on the ceiling, so many bodies in constant motion. All this affects my vestibular and proprioceptive senses, and now I can't even tell where my body is in space.

3. Please remember to distinguish between won't (I choose not to) and can't (I am not able to).Receptive and expressive language and vocabulary can be major challenges for me. It isn't that I don't listen to instructions. It's that I can't understand you. When you call to me from across the room, this is what I hear: "*&^%$#@, Billy. #$%…" Instead, come speak directly to me in plain words: "Please put your book in your desk, Billy. It's time to go to lunch." This tells me what you want me to do and what is going to happen next. Now it is much easier for me to comply.

4. I am a concrete thinker. This means I interpret language very literally. It's very confusing for me when you say, "Hold your horses, cowboy!" when what you really mean is "Please stop running." Don't tell me something is a "piece of cake" when there is no dessert in sight and what you really mean is "this will be easy for you to do." When you say "Jamie really burned up the track," I see a kid playing with matches. Please just tell me "Jamie ran very fast."Idioms, puns, nuances, double entendres, inference, metaphors, allusions and sarcasm are lost on me.

5. Please be patient with my limited vocabulary. It's hard for me to tell you what I need when I don't know the words to describe my feelings. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened or confused but right now those words are beyond my ability to express. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that something is wrong.Or, there's a flip side to this: I may sound like a "little professor" or movie star, rattling off words or whole scripts well beyond my developmental age. These are messages I have memorized from the world around me to compensate for my language deficits because I know I am expected to respond when spoken to. They may come from books, TV, the speech of other people. It is called "echolalia." I don't necessarily understand the context or the terminology I'm using. I just know that it gets me off the hook for coming up with a reply.

6. Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented. Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me. And please be prepared to show me many times. Lots of consistent repetition helps me learn.A visual schedule is extremely helpful as I move through my day. Like your PDA or day-timer, it relieves me of the stress of having to remember what comes next, makes for smooth transition between activities, helps me manage my time and meet your expectations.I won't lose the need for a visual schedule as I get older, but my "level of representation" may change. Before I can read, I need a visual schedule with photographs or simple drawings. As I get older, a combination of words and pictures may work, and later still, just words.

7. Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can't do. Like any other human, I can't learn in an environment where I'm constantly made to feel that I'm not good enough and that I need "fixing." Trying anything new when I am almost sure to be met with criticism, however "constructive," becomes something to be avoided. Look for my strengths and you will find them. There is more than one "right" way to do most things.

8. Please help me with social interactions. It may look like I don't want to play with the other kids on the playground, but sometimes it's just that I simply do not know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation. If you can encourage other children to invite me to join them at kickball or shooting baskets, it may be that I'm delighted to be included.I do best in structured play activities that have a clear beginning and end. I don't know how to "read" facial expressions, body language or the emotions of others, so I appreciate ongoing coaching in proper social responses. For example, if I laugh when Emily falls off the slide, it's not that I think it's funny. It's that I don't know the proper response. Teach me to say "Are you OK?"

9. Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns. Meltdowns, blow-ups, tantrums or whatever you want to call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload. If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented. Keep a log noting times, settings, people, activities. A pattern may emerge.Try to remember that all behavior is a form of communication. It tells you, when my words cannot, how I perceive something that is happening in my environment.Parents, keep in mind as well: persistent behavior may have an underlying medical cause. Food allergies and sensitivities, sleep disorders and gastrointestinal problems can all have profound effects on behavior.

10. Love me unconditionally. Banish thoughts like, "If he would just……" and "Why can't she….." You did not fulfill every last expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn't like being constantly reminded of it. I did not choose to have autism. But remember that it is happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of successful, self-reliant adulthood are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. I promise you – I am worth it.And finally, three words: Patience. Patience. Patience. Work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me. It may be true that I'm not good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don't lie, cheat at games, tattle on my classmates or pass judgment on other people? Also true that I probably won't be the next Michael Jordan.

But with my attention to fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein. Or Mozart. Or Van Gogh.They had autism, too.The answer to Alzheimer's, the enigma of extraterrestrial life -- what future achievements from today's children with autism, children like me, lie ahead?All that I might become won't happen without you as my foundation. Be my advocate, be my friend, and we'll see just how far I can go.*This was an excerpt from a book with the same title by Ellen Notbohm* (I bought her book already)"Special kids are given to special parents like us."

Visit my friend Jhet's site and see her cards,.. cuteness i tell you !

Ty Jhet for keeping me in your thoughts always and becoming my source of my inspiration as I begin this journey with Jorel,... I am blessed to call you my friend,.. at sana ma meet na kita,...

"Creative clutter is better than idle neatness."
Visit Jhet's blog at MY CRAFTS AND STUFFS
Design Team Member - CRAFTY MUSE

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

check out my bantay (my little cutie guard)

I took this last night experimenting on lighting on my camera when I chanced upon the shot with Jorel in the background.

He always waits for me before dozing off to sleep,.. he would sit there watch tv or if di na kaya -- will get me where I am in the room -- hold my hand and lead me to the room,.. cute no?

He is the loveliest I swear and is always snuggled up in bed with me -- hahah no space for his daddy for sure !... Just sharing this cute photo.

Thanks for looking.

A layout for my jorellie boy

Title: You gave life new meaning

Creative Imaginations Narratives Creme pps
Kraft/Fabriano Cardstock
Embl: Blings, Stazon black inks, Flocked chipboard letters, Provo rubon letters, CI die cut letters

You gave new meaning to my life. After Dad and I decided for you to be our last child – we had agonized over such a decision. However with GOD’s leading we knew it was the right thing to do – it was after all valuing life, mommy’s health and our family time. Dad and I are truly devoted to you 3 and what’s best for our family.

When I had you, I cried uncontrollably, real tears they were.... So did Dad too.. WE prayed for a healthy child. Now those tears don’t come anymore because I was MADE ready for you.
You came into our lives –the cutest smile, the nicest pair of eyes I have ever seen,.... There was something magical when your face broke into a smile and the way you cuddled us upon excitement. You began to draw us closer with those smiles. It was ones that wiped away my worries, uplift my low times and alleviated my fears. You gave new meaning to my life and have to taught me to value all my blessings, especially our FAMILY.

Now I know why we are here in Sydney – it is because – this is the place where you will truly shine... where we will learn to cling to each other for strength. I am so glad we didn’t stop at 2 or else I’d never experience being enriched by your presence..... I have become the kind of mom with patience, dedication and unconditional love.... thanks to you.. I love you JOREL....

These photos couldn't be cropped in my opinion. I wanted to show the series of heartwarming images as Jorel hugged me and enjoyed the day out with Dad and I. I wanted to capture his sweet nature. I wrote about his birth and our sentiments in my journalling for him. I kept the design as simple as can be. I created a pocket with the large photo to disguise my journalling tag.
This layout took only a while to do because all it needed was a nice presentation because the photographs spoke for itself

The Yaps strutting their stuff

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