Avengers: Infinity War 2X

Skip the Avengers: Infinity movie and save money. Besides that the sentence rhymes, it was my plan this weekend after our company treated us employees to a blocked screening at the nearby Vista Mall coming from a Friday night shift.

Other than having a bag of bland popcorn–I passed on the salt and flavoring–and a warm bottle of orange soda for breakfast, the movie treat was a deviation to my normal weekend diet, it also wasn’t Marcus’ idea of how his Sunday would be like.

I thought he and his mom already worked out an alternative when he said before going to bed Saturday night that he discovered he could pre-order Avengers: Infinity War on Xbox Live. Sounds like a plan, a cheaper plan of just $15. All he needs to do was wait until the movie becomes available online.

But I should’ve have known better that waiting doesn’t work for him. I learned sooner that Marcus is still looking forward to watching it in the cinema. Wifey relayed the message minutes before I hit the sack that night. “Your son asked if I could carry him to the seats if it’s just the two of us and I answered yes, of course. That’s his concern,” she said but left her statement hanging.

“So what’s your concern?” I asked, fishing for unstated needs–force work of habit kicking in. “That if I could actually carry him,” she replied half firm, half joking. We had a good laugh out of it. I know my wife’s humor as much as I know her hidden strength. I know she can carry Marcus no doubt.

So I went to bed that night still with the same initial plan–drive them to the mall, wait for them outside until the movie ends. I was ready to kill time with my Netflix downloads and spare purchasing another Avengers: Infinity War movie ticket in the process.

That last conversation stuck though. Our routine in the cinemas we’ve been following for the past years since the wheelchair kept playing inside my head until the next morning while I eat my oatmeal-raisin-peanut butter-banana combo to compensate for the other day’s toxic choice.

He came prepared for the cold.

Buy popcorn for Marcus, get snacks for us, transfer him to his movie theater seat, carry him to his wheelchair if he asked to go the toilet, then settle back again to enjoy the film. It’s been like that most times. And lately he’s gained more weight.

I need to be in the cinema. Period.

So that’s how I ended up watching the same movie twice in a row. Good thing the comfy Solenad Cinema 3 allowed me to snooze every now and then and to see Marcus enjoying everything–the Avengers and Guardians characters, Stan Lee’s cameo, Blazing Cheddar popcorn, and his favorite reclining seat–was worth spending an extra 400 pesos.

Weekend mission accomplished.

***

The Avengers: Infinity War is a dark movie and it could disappointment people especially those who expect a triumphant hero at the end. This movie is a game changer. Thanos has to die.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Busy week ahead.)

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Ten and Counting

There’s no stopping time as Marcus turns ten. He’s become smarter and continue to be more expressive. He now knows what he wants and if he had his way, he wants things to happen.

Color of the day.

Even before 2018 started he was already specific with his plans for his birthday this year. He asked if he could celebrate it in Acacia Hotel Manila with just the three of us–introvert parents breed introvert kids, don’t we? Wifey tried to offer other choices but Marcus has made up his mind. Must be the pool or the rooms or maybe it’s the hotel’s proximity to Festival Mall or ATC, his comfort zones since then. Or maybe it made a mark on him when we almost lost his favorite plush Frankenbob toy the last time we were here but staff found and returned it. Whatever, he just loves the place no doubt.

Acacia pool, Frankenbob, Elmo

His affinity for this place in Filinvest Alabang over the others seemed to prove worthy once again. A grand welcome greeted him when we stepped in our room which would be our home in the next three days and two nights. Staff prepared the room for Marcus with balloons and a whole chocolate birthday cake. It was the most number of balloons he ever had. Staff spoiled him more with complimentary desserts they delivered to our room in the evening.

This birthday would have been a whole lot better if only we could promise to give him his special wish he made the morning before we set off on our staycation.

“What’s your wish?” we asked him before blowing his Homer cake–a pink sprinkled Krispy Kreme donut wifey designed as a cake with one birthday candle in the middle. Still in his pajamas with his ruffled newly dyed golden hair, he said, “That I could walk and a PS4.” I smiled and cheered but I know that wifey too silently wished and felt the same thing I did as I finish the video recording. It was something we both expected our son would say but one of it just won’t happen in this lifetime however hard we’d want to. A miracle is all we could wish for.

Happy birthday son, we still love you, we are here for you.

***

Marcus skipped his therapy this week but he left his physical therapists some pizza the other Friday to celebrate this birthday.

Marcus and wifey with staff and interns of St. Frances Cabrini PT center.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Hope Marcus doesn’t catch the bug. Wifey and I got the sniffles.)

Run With Marcus

It’s been my dream to do something physical with Marcus, run with him. But his wheelchair sets some limits among others. Weather and outdoor condition are other factors as he’s had history of allergic reactions.

Yesterday seems to be the perfect condition although it was a bit windy late in the afternoon. We set off anyway, stepped out of the house with my running shoes and Marcus looking forward to see the goats along the way.

I ran and pushed at the first kilometer until the goats appeared. Then it was mostly run-walk from then onwards. I let Marcus cherish the moments to see nature and animals beyond Ultra HD 4K.

We conquered 200 meters. Flaring nostrils not shown.

If only we had this Adaptive Mobility Freedom Push Chairs which I saw first on Facebook page of Athletes in Tandem. This push chair would allow me to run with Marcus better and safer. His current wheelchair rattles and it poses a challenge when going uphill thus the need to take extra care not to over tilt him backwards. The mobility chair’s price is stiff though at $900 excluding shipping since it would come from USA. Maybe soon.

We covered seven kilometers yesterday so this red wheelchair is good enough for now.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Today’s agenda: Learn the floss. (No) thanks to kid’s Fortnite game.)

Alcohol-Free, Almost

Me according to Marcus.

As parents, we play different roles. At some point we are either any or a combination of being a superhero, a soldier, a doctor, a nurse, a driver, a bank teller, a teacher, a preacher, a clown, and a friend. Our children expect us to be as flexible as Mr. Fantastic and our children keep a keen eye on us day in day out. What we do is what they would become.

It is imperative that we pay attention to our actions. The sooner we realize that we have greater responsibilities the moment a child becomes part of our lives, the better. Parenting is complicated, I know, and it is normally easy on theory but a whole lot different when everything happens right in front of your face. Kid cries, kid wants food, kid poops, kid pees, kid makes a mess. And kid gets sick. And some kid, later on, would have special needs.

There is no turning back. Hard truth. It takes someone strong, wherever that strength may come from, to say “I can do this.” A good parent commits, a good parent loves…without condition. Child first, everything else takes a backseat.

It took some time to get my acts straight when it comes to alcohol. Several times I was behind the wheel under influence with Marcus inside the car, I had days I missed getting him to bed because I can barely hold my own, and there was one day I missed him blowing his birthday cake because I’ve passed out. Been that bad father.

This was a sign.

Honestly, I somehow miss drinking with friends. Those days when cheeks would get warm and tight. Those days when eyes drop halfway, then the world starts turning. Those days when inhibitions are lost and words come out freely and without care. All for the heck of doing it. In vino veritas. But perspectives and priorities changed.

I haven’t stopped drinking entirely but since the red wheelchair came the drinking became less and lesser. Occasional isn’t even a close definition. I could count with my fingers the number of times I went drinking especially last year. Running and working out helped me avoid the urges. (FYI, six bottles of low-calorie beer is equivalent to one meal or a third of a day’s calorie allowance. That’s excluding finger foods!)

I am alcohol-free, almost. I’ve made myself 24/7 for Marcus as much as possible. I’m his fireman who would jump the pole and would be there for him in no time. I would only drink if Marcus is not around or if I know Marcus’ needs are all taken care of. I think I could now qualify as best parent yet not. Others have far challenging stories. So to all of you out there who continue to make sacrifices and continue to love their kids with special needs, hats off to you. Happy Sunday.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Just in time for the adobo.)

Marcus’ First Real Theme Park Experience


Build a theme park and they would come. This is what Marcus has been doing on Roblox this past few days. With a bigger and better TV for his XBox, the games have been more vivid, been larger than life like Theme Park Tycoon 2. He was never this focused on this game.

Marcus oversees his park.

For days this week I would wake up from a night shift slumber hearing him and his mother exchanging ideas on how to improve his theme park as he tries to compete with others online. Man, his park is impressive. In fact, he tops others by several number of AI guests lining up his rides and trust me, the Ultra HD screen makes first person perspective dizzying enough for an old guy like me. But it’s just another video game for Marcus, still seated the whole day and he could only imagine what a real theme park looks and feels like.

He’s finally here!

Thanks goodness, Enchanted Kingdom is just an hour away from home. It’s a longstanding plan to bring Marcus there but his recent interest in roller coasters, drop towers, and other thrill rides made us agree that this time is the right time for us to be there. It took only a short question from me and a nod from wifey, budget constraints dismissed, and we saw ourselves on a Saturday afternoon driving to Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

It’s been years since wifey and I last visited Enchanted Kingdom. The park’s entrance fees have doubled to P900 per person, P600 for persons with disabilities. It almost emptied my wallet. The park was packed as anticipated so one immediate challenge was Marcus’ access to the rides. I can still carry him but the question is if the attendants would approve it.

Real life, real thrill.

Up, Up and Away ride would’ve been Marcus’ first and only ride. The staff allowed us to bypass the queue by entering through the exit gate. All the next rides, however, weren’t as PWD-friendly. We checked Roller Skater, Jungle Log Jam, Fun Kart, and even the seemingly easy Swan Ride but these have regulations that prohibit people like Marcus to ride any of it. Bummer.

Rialto was a blast.

All is not lost though. Enchanted Kingdom has something for PWDs. Rialto for one had an Ice Age feature film that got Marcus screaming and laughing. Then the park’s Agila, The Experience theater made up for all our disappointment.

That moment when the steep entrance fee becomes worth it.

Exclusively housed in the theme park’s inverted cone-shaped building, Agila offers an interactive experience (Eldar the Wizard in Hologram would fascinate even adults) that features the promotion of EK’s environmental awareness campaign. Agila’s main attraction is its huge theater with moving seats that add realism to flying with the eagle as it soars and sweeps over popular natural wonders of the Philippines. Marcus and wifey was able to get a short glimpse of how Palawan’s Underground River looks like. I’d pay 900 pesos again to experience Agila. It was worth it.

If only there’s PWD rover in space.

We arrived late in the afternoon so we ran out of time to test other rides, individually. Right out of Agila, Marcus let me ride Disk-O-Magic alone and next was Space Shuttle which opened again after the fireworks display. The Ferris Wheel would’ve been our last but it still has a long queue until the park closed at 9 PM.

Our Enchanted Kingdom day was a welcome change to our weekend routine despite the limitations. Getting Marcus out of the house to places that give adequate access to PWDs like him is always something that we look forward to. I know EK could do better by being more PWD-friendly. I now also wish that our country has a theme park for people in wheelchairs.

***

Mood 1/10 Honks! (Yesterday’s DQ ice cream made my day.)

Funny Love

It’s the time of the year again when the color red is all over. It’s Valentines week plus it’s Chinese New Year. Prices of flowers once again doubled, overpriced chocolates flood the shelves, couples here and there, and singles in despair. Love is in the air. (Did it rhyme?)

But how long does love last? How long does displaying affection in public remain appealing for lovers? How soon before all this romance start to wane off? Would this ‘heat of the moment’ gradually end when marriage starts? The fact is, the answer may be yes.

There is a saying that if love is blind, marriage is the eye opener. True? Time will come when couples snap out of their fantasies. Like it or not, marriage comes in a package, annoying individual traits and tough challenges included–kids for one. ‘And they lived happily ever after’ just so belong in fairy tales.

This doesn’t mean, however, that marriage is a trap. It may be a point of no return but not entirely likened to a deadly quicksand or I won’t even write this post and expect to survive a day more. Perseverance and understanding considered, there’s something that could make wedded life a bliss. In any case, let humor be among it.

Blessed are couples who make each other laugh often. Marriage is serious stuff but it doesn’t have to be serious all the time. Being too serious is boring and when boredom strikes, it normally spells bad options and you know what happens next. That is why laughter is key. Being able to laugh out loud loosens tensions, opens door to communication and could very well help preserve marriage. After all didn’t they say that laughter is the best medicine?

Happy Valentine’s Day wifey. I love you…and your shallow jokes.

My wife was a clown in her past life.

***

As always been the case since Marcus arrived, our Valentine’s day dates already include a kid tagging along. Our date, his agenda. This weekend was meant for Black Panther.

Black Panther stood up to the hype. One proof: I was awake during the entire long film, thanks in part to the venti Americano. Behind the action scenes, this movie is trying to tell us something deeper. I cannot recall watching in the big screen something that has so much subtle messages in one story like this latest Marvel film. (But take note I’m becoming Dory.)

Marcus’ Fallout 4 mod.

Unlike other superhero movies that are about fighting crimes and saving the world, Black Panther was more specific and relevant. It was about raising awareness that black minorities exist and that they are often oppressed whether they are in their own birthplace or in foreign soil. Whatever the reasons are, such oppression must come to an end especially for the sake of the young and innocent ones. I think our leaders could always do more. Sadly Vibranium is fiction and the misery of the black minorities is a fact.

Black Panther also delivers the premise that Hollywood isn’t all about good white guys all the time. I don’t know if there’s something political behind the story but Asians come next after the number of Wakandans and I think we could count the number of white guys who appeared in this film, Stan Lee included.

Then there’s the individuality aspect of the movie. There’s so much artifacts in Black Panther that address body shaming which continue to become more prevalent on social media. This superhero movie doesn’t only save the world but also seek acceptance of people with body piercings, lips with flat disc, erect nipples, and even backnes. To each his own. Now I feel like wearing sandals with my ugly toes exposed.

Our first Wing Stop visit and we love it.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (This is Sunday. Sunny and sleepy.)

Bury

Thor: Ragnarok stands up to its hype. By far, it’s the best movie I got the chance to watch after Deadpool. It was fun, it was entertaining despite cheesy scenes and other flaws. Ask my son and my wife whom I knew were betting if I’d snooze before the popcorn hits the bottom of the bucket. I didn’t.

I want to write further about the movie but I won’t. I don’t have time. I would rather run or skip rope as what I’ve been doing for months in my ongoing quest to lose weight plus there’s this new goal to get near Thor’s physique. Or sleep is the next best option–as always. Go read the movie reviews on Google.

If there’s one message though that Thor: Ragnarok tells its viewers, it is the need to accept defeat and move on. For defeat is temporary. Yes, it is a setback but it is something that once we learn to accept makes us think better and see the next steps clearer. Thor knew Hela was just too powerful and recognized that Asgard  isn’t the end of the game. He made the right choice.

Loss is never easy to embrace. Our ego will always get in the way and that ego is often a tough adversary that could only be overcome if we look beyond any predicament at hand. Ego makes it hard to say sorry. Ego makes it hard to move on. Ego makes it hard to bury the hatchet.

Last ones to leave the cinema and before we almost did our GTA moves.

***

I’ve read that kids are great imitators and this why controlling my expressions and temper in front of our son continue to be a challenge. While I claim to have gotten better, there’s still that room for improvement–big room. Being a parent made me learn to curb my emotions and say sorry whenever appropriate. This usually saves the day.

***

Like parenting, and writing, driving is also a work in progress. Maybe it comes with age as being behind the wheel for years have made me gather my composure faster. Last night was another test.

 

Right out of the last screening of Thor Ragnarok, while happily talking about how we like Korg, a vehicle rear-ended our car. It was the hardest hit it ever had. The culprit made a run for it and I tried to pursue while Marcus freaks out in the car wanting to get even with the guy. Realizing how upset he was made me snap out of my own road rage fast, me and my wife instead consoled Marcus that a dented bumper is not worth the chase. I didn’t even bother checking our dashboard camera when we arrived home and wifey said I slept smiling that night. Nope, I didn’t dream of doing a successful pit maneuver.

***

Surprisingly, the bumper was fixable. I was able to align it back after breakfast today. There’s only a minor crack on the backup light but I can live with it.

***

Then there’s pets to bury. One of the dogs in our compound that wifey started to take care of for weeks passed away. For some reason it was in pain for days so I’m just glad that it’s finally over. Same goes with another white kitten that also left us on the same day. Rest in peace furry friends.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Trust me, I’m fine.)