Just A Regular Every Day

22 Feb

I have not had a real chance to play with my Sylvanians in a long while. When I packed up my Sylvanians in May last year to do some house remodeling, I did not foresee that getting them back out again would take this long. But life is crazy that way and what we plan for one day isn’t necessarily what will happen the next. The best we can hope for is to always be prepared, and if that doesn’t work, at least to hope for some grace and wisdom for when things go awry.

These last few weeks, we’ve all been hard at work to make our house feel like a home again. We’ve had boxes of things from my parents’ move lying around forever. Old furniture that we had been storing for a planned remodel were occupying what little space we had left. Even our collectibles were in sore need of organization and downsizing. We were living in boxes again and suffocating from the huge weight of clutter in our lives.

The first to go were piles of junk. I call them junk now but for a long time, I could not bear to let them go, determined as I was to find a use for them. Then, we finally found a great upholsterer who could work within our budget. In two weeks, we had three sofas, two arm chairs, and three ottomans looking like new again. We finally rid ourselves of that unsightly pile of old sofas lying around in the garage. We started moving around the house, reorganizing to make more room, giving old collections a once over to make sure we didn’t start piling them on again.

We still have more to go through and that means combing over the catch-all rooms- the basement library in our home, the kitchen and bedrooms in the schoolhouse. We have also planned some minor kitchen remodeling, additional shelving by the basement stairs, and a second round of roof repairs. It’ll take us much longer to sift through all those, but as long as we continue, one day at a time, I am confident even those will be ticked off our to-do list in no time.

In the meantime, while I take the morning off for some rest and recreation (I have a wee bit of a cold), allow me to share with you my newest Sylvanian treasures. I think finding them reawakened my Sylvanian mojo, my desire to start playing with them again after all these many months. And you already know by now that Sylvanian grandparents are my favorite figures in the whole line; they never fail to make me smile.

I purchased this pair of Babblebrook grandparents from my dear friend Apples for a very reasonable price. They were a little stained and dirty from storage and didn’t have all their accessories (Grandpa was missing his cane and Grandma was missing her shawl) but they were in great condition. Their fur/flocking did not have any scuffings or scratches, which was most important. Their clothes were not ripped and only needed some washing to restore to their original colors. And they both had their wire eyeglasses, which can be so difficult to find these days.

I gave them both a bath last night. Washing the figures lightened the stains but I did not try any of the more vigorous cleaning techniques I have employed on newer figures because of the possibility of tearing their flocking. These are old figures, circa 1986, and I would much rather love them with their flaws than risk hurting them.

Here is a before picture (original photo of Apples):

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Here is an after picture:

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I fashioned a cane from a real plant stalk and spray painted it clear to give it some sturdiness. Grandma’s shawl is borrowed from an outfit sewn by The Crafty Ladybug for my Periwinkle grandmother. The color is great on her, and is very close to the original. I can live without the missing parts for now but will be on the lookout for them in the future.

Finally, here they are, being welcomed by some of the senior rabbit citizens of Kitty Little Lanes.

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Sylvanian Families help remind me that no matter how busy we are with real life, it’s always a gift to be able to play, to relax, to unwind. So today, as I get ready for the next round of cleaning, I am thankful for these moments of peace, for this gift of unhurried time, and for this joy of childhood play.

Of Tikoy and Memories

20 Feb

Today, on the second day of the Chinese New Year, I am missing my father more than ever. My father always loved this lunar holiday. Growing up in a Chinese-Filipino household, ours was always an extended season of merrymaking, Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year included in an already unusually long holiday season. And because Daddy was a tireless giver, he always found reasons to present us simple little gifts, even if we didn’t necessarily deserve them. Now that he is gone, nothing about today feels the same anymore.

I suppose I can always look back to the celebrations of the past for inspiration. My strongest memories of Chinese New Year were always associated with boxes and boxes of sweet, sticky rice cakes (tikoy), all meant for giving away to family and friends, and how my father always made sure that I had boxes of my own to give away to classmates and teachers. It was a tradition that he cherished and shared with us- me- most of all. The other night, as we ushered in another New Year, it felt strangely devoid of all significance, other than that he is gone.

Still, life goes on, right? And if this sudden apathy for this past holiday is a reminder of how unsettling and new and unexpected our lives have been since Daddy left us, I find strange comfort in how appropriate it is that the New Year’s Eve Celebrations this year fell on Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. While Cardinal Tagle gave Chinese-Filipinos the dispensation to continue with their festive preparations, given the way I was feeling, I was more inclined to honor the fast. So that night, amid the sounds of firecrackers and revelry, we chose to do away with all that.

They say grief comes in waves, in large tsunami-like crests that overwhelm and inundate you one after another without let-up and without mercy. This is grief within memory’s reach, when the wounds are fresh and bleeding. In time, they also say, the waves come less often, spaced farther and farther apart. They lose the ferocity of their strength. They let you forget the depths of your anguish and ease you to healing and forgetting, But once in a long while, just when you thought that the worst of your pain has passed, a strong memory conjures a grief so strong that it knocks the breath out of you, rendering you raw, bruised, and hurting. Then you remember again how it was to feel vulnerable and afraid, to feel helpless and alone in the darkness of your sorrow.

Funny how a box of tikoy can undo all those months of “moving on.”

In these moments of weakness, I cling to the reassurance of my faith. This is what Lent is to me: a renewal of the promise of His love for us. And just as the New Year heralds another beginning, Lent signals our rebirth in the spirit. If only for this promise, I am once again strong enough to be washed in pain. I just wish I didn’t have to miss Daddy so much.

The Fallen Brave

30 Jan

Today, I dedicate this space to honor the 44 Special Action Force policemen who died in the line of duty in Maguindanao.

While we have yet to piece together the details of this botched operation, while we ask the hard questions and demand for accountability, while we press for justice for the dead and punishment for the guilty and the responsible, today, we take the time to thank our fallen brothers for their service to the country.

Many of them were young men in the cusp of their lives. They never complained the hard lot of a policeman’s life. They left behind their families and the comforts of homes, ready to be thrown at a moment’s notice in hostile territory to fight for the one thing they will never know in their lifetime – peace. And they never begrudged the Filipino this thankless, often lonely, duty.

My grandfather was a policeman. When I was growing up, he used to tell us stories culled from his years of service as one of Manila’s Finest. We used to think of them as “adventures of daring and exploit.” We clapped our hands in glee whenever he reached the parts where bullets whizzed over their heads and small children that we were, we always asked for more. We never gave a second thought to the danger and risks he and his comrades took. It didn’t occur to us that all his stories could have gone the other way, that he could have been injured, or worse. They were all just stories to us.

When I was older, I asked him why he chose to go into the service. By then, I knew about the reality of being a policeman. The low pay. The long hours. The inadequate material support in equipment, ammunition, even uniforms.

He thought about this for a while. The only answer he gave me was “somebody had to do it.”

Our men in uniform serve as the wall that protects us from the horrors of hate, evil, and war. Today, we grieve the loss of these 44 young men who gave up their lives so that all of us may be a little safer in our homes, in our communities, and in our country. They never sought merit or glory. They never dreamt of money or fame. I bet if we could ask them why they bravely laid their lives on the line, they’d tell you the same thing.

Somebody had to do it.

And that somebody was them, the 44 fallen braves of the Special Action Force and their brothers in service who risk their lives daily for us. I wish they knew how much we appreciate their bravery and service.

Thank you for your sacrifice.

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A New Year’s Update

8 Jan

Happy New Year, friends! I apologize for the long absence; the holidays have been busy and exhausting for our family. We were shorthanded with the temporary absence of Alphonse’s caregivers and our continuing saga with difficult behavior was made harder with Alphonse’s ear problems. Daddy’s absence also made the holidays bleaker than it already was. I could go on and on about what really went on, but let it suffice to say we were all in desperate need of a Happy New Year.

And so, we greet 2015 with a rare, real family photo, taken one sunny morning at the memorial park where Daddy sleeps. We spent the mornings of Christmas and the New Year by Daddy’s grave- just me, A♥ and the boys sitting quietly in the marble benches beside him. It was our first Christmas without Daddy and truth to tell, the loneliness was sometimes too hard to bear. In the park, however, which was quiet that time of day, we breathed easily as we soaked in his memories. Our somber reminiscences easily turned into joyful banter as we remembered Daddy and all the crazy, funny things he did in his lifetime. We felt connected to him again. Even Alphonse seemed happy there.

Family NY 2015These smiles are for you, Daddy. ♥

Over the holidays, well-meaning friends have asked for an update on Alphonse. I sincerely thank all you who think of him with love and concern. I know how busy your lives can be and to reach out beyond your comfort zone to ask, to wish, to pray, and to love is often impossible for many of us. That you do is a continuing testament to the friendship that you have generously and selflessly extended to me and my family. Thank you.

Alphonse is well, generally speaking. We are looking at a second procedure to drain both his ears, probably by the end of this month. I know some of you have asked about the first procedure so allow me to give you a more detailed story on what happened then.

We went in the hospital last November 26, Wednesday afternoon. The surgical procedure, which only took two minutes in real time, was performed on November 27, Thursday morning. Easy peasy, right? As is the case with Alphonse, what went on between admission and surgery was another story altogether.

To be honest, Alphonse did admirably well under the most stressful circumstances. He is deathly afraid of hospitals and doctors and will do anything to escape and run away. It took just six people to hold him down for the IV insertion, and only because he didn’t fight us with all his strength. I was able to wrap him in a blanket without resistance and this made it easier to hold him down the rest of the time. The IV line went in without a hitch.

NY 04“Easy” is relative.

Two hours later, however, he decided he had had enough and using just one hand (both his hands were wrapped and covered so he would not be able to remove the line), he was able to remove the whole IV line- tube and cathether- in one go. I’d have said he has the makings of a Houdini right there, the way he wiggled his arm out of the splint, the cloth covers, and layers of sticky Leukoplast tape.

He also refused to sleep and roamed the halls almost the whole night. When he became agitated and started howling loudly, we asked the doctors for a prescription to help him calm down. Even with that, however, he kept walking and roaming till he fell asleep on his feet. It was almost two in the morning and the nannies and I were all so tired, we fell asleep as soon as our heads hit our pillows.

An hour of restless sleep later, we woke up to the sounds of nurses and doctors preparing for the IV line reinsertion. Seeing all those people surrounding him shook Alphonse from his stupor. It took eight people to hold him down this time. Perhaps sensing the futility of resistance, Alphonse gave up fighting rather quickly. IV line 2 was secured in no time at all.

NY 05

In this corner, weighing 76kgs… Hand wraps to go with his boxers’ ear

On hindsight, the whole thing went down too easily. We should have been more vigilant but sleeplessness has a way of dulling the brain. I am amazed that Alphonse was wily enough to surrender when his strength was weakest and to bide his time till we were not watching. Half an hour later, as we tried to engage him with Youtube videos, he pulled out the tubing by wrapping the plastic line around his elbows and pulling hard. Were it not for additional layers of tape, he would have pulled out the IV catheter as well, which would have necessitated a third reinsertion. It was past four in the morning then and we could not wait for the day to start.

The surgery team came up to fetch him at six. He went willingly in a wheelchair. Although we could sense that he was a bit afraid, he held our hands obediently and followed. There was still another hour’s wait then, and though he tried to escape thrice, he also listened and stayed when I asked him to. I have to give him credit for this unexpected restraint and compliance. Even when all his instincts went against everything I said and asked of him, Alphonse listened and trusted me.

NY 02On our way to the OR

So it just about broke my heart when he struggled to stay awake and stand up through repeated intravenous injections of the anesthetics. The anesthesiologist (God bless his kind heart) gently coaxed Alphonse into the stretcher, talking to him calmly and with so much gentleness and reassurance. And as Alphonse finally drifted into sleep, the doctors made sure mine was the last face he would see. I was also the first to greet him when he came out of anesthesia.

NY 01Post-op

Alphonse woke up, post-operatively, after an hour and a half in the recovery room. He was groggy and disoriented. He shivered uncontrollably and retched from the anesthetics. He tore the pressure dressing off his ear within minutes of waking up and pulled out the drain the doctor left in it. He calmed down a bit after seeing me but refused to go back to sleep anymore.

NY 03He didn’t go back to the hospital room the rest of the day.

The doctors allowed us to go home late in the day after all the effects of the anesthetics had worn off. Seeing the difficulty of putting back pressure dressings, they agreed to let us go home on the condition that we would manually drain his ear, keep it sterile and aseptic, and continue to administer topical and oral antibiotics. As another prerequisite, my brother-in-law John, who happens to be a surgeon, would be asked to keep watch over Alphonse’s ear and reopen the drain site if necessary.

In the days that followed, Alphonse willingly let us clean his ear and drain it of fluids. I have to reinsert the tips of a pair of mosquito forceps daily in the incision site to keep it open and even then, we have had setbacks when Alphonse hits his ear with his arms or his fists. But just before Christmas, his ear ballooned again, this time severe enough that it necessitated intervention by my brother-in-law. Alphonse has been wary of us since then and scuttles away when I pull out the gloves and gauze in the mornings.

Over the holidays, while we dealt with one setback after another, we were able to work on trying to diminish his episodes of head banging. Although this behavior still appears now and then, it no longer has the intensity, frequency, and duration of the first few weeks. And yet, a secondary behavior has appeared- the hitting of his entire face with his arms and fists- and this is proving more difficult to address. As a result, Alphonse’s right ear is not healing, his other ear now contains pockets of air, and his face, neck, and arms bear bruises and wounds from being gouged and scratched.

I don’t have the heart to post his “real” pictures, the ones where there is a huge wound on the left side of his nose and bruises and abrasions on his cheeks and forehead. I process his pictures on Photoshop, carefully removing the wounds and cuts. Alphonse is not unhappy most of the time and his smiles are so heartfelt and so genuine that even I wonder what goes on inside his mind when he hurts himself.

I wish I knew the answers to this question. I wish I knew how to ease him of all his uncertainties and fears. For now, as we move on to the New Year, all we have is the hope that all these will pass away and soon, we pray. In the meantime, we ask for more prayers for healing and calm for him. Thank you, dear friends, for your good thoughts and wishes and Happy New Year again.

 

Nature Essentials Elixir

1 Dec

I volunteered to do a review of Nature Essentials Elixir a month ago. In the interest of fairness, I will have to disclose that these products were given free of charge and specifically for this purpose but this review was not compensated for in any other way. While my blog niche is not that of a beauty blogger’s, my review will be based upon my experience as a potential consumer of this brand.

My regular brand of choice for skin care, as everyone who has ever browsed through this blog knows, requires a three-step skin care ritual which I have faithfully followed for many years. However, for this particular review, I stopped using all my regular cleansing products to allow my skin to reap the full benefits of this new brand. Before use, however, I did a patch test of each of these products in my arm. None of these products caused any visible adverse effect such as itching or redness.

I jumped into this review because I had started to notice small, very fine lines in my forehead in the last few months. My husband thinks I am exaggerating but I started seeing them more clearly after my dad passed away in July. Clearly, stress was a major factor in aging my skin. Then too, with the busy days and nights that went into Dad’s hospital stay and his wake, I was not as diligent as I should have been in taking care of my skin. Some days, I forgot my sunscreen; other days, I was too tired to do anything than to wipe my make-up off with make-up cleansing tissues.

Nature Essentials boasts of their products as “nature’s answer to Botox,” recommending their products as an alternative to those costly injections of the Botulinum toxin which paralyze the activity of facial muscles that cause frown lines and wrinkles. Aside from its anti-aging claim, it is also said to possess whitening and regenerating properties. Intrigued by these, I volunteered to do this review, stretching the period to three-and-a-half weeks.

Nature essentials

After a 48-hour rest from my regular products and with the patch test done and over with, I began to use Nature Essentials to replace the products I used daily. I began by using the Algae Elixir soap, which is sold as a small, translucent blue bar weighing 90grams. It is intended to cleanse your skin of make-up and other impurities, as well as aid in firming and tightening the skin.

The soap is rather easy to lather. It lasts quite long and the sample I received made it through more than three weeks of twice-daily washing. The soap isn’t granular so it is not harsh on the skin. It smells medicinal at first but the smell does not linger in the suds or on your face. To get a deeper cleanse especially on days when make-up was necessary, I massaged the lather and allowed it to stay on my face for a few minutes.

After a thorough rinsing with water, I followed it up with a layer of Elixir Mask. The mask comes in a dark blue flat jar with an inner cover. The smell is also faintly medicinal but not off-putting. The mask is a translucent light blue fluid with the consistency of liquid glue. It is thick and spreads with a little difficulty so a generous amount is needed to cover the entire face. To maximize use, however, I concentrated the mask on my forehead, making sure to cover the area well. The mask dries tight on the face but is easily removed by water. The recommended frequency of use is thrice a week but for this test, I used it every other day.

The Face Elixir is the last thing I put on at night. Compared to the mask, which is heavy and thick, the elixir serum is light, non-greasy, and gets absorbed quite readily so a little goes a long way. I did not notice a tingling or pricking sensation when I used it. I did notice that my face was oily when I woke up in the morning, but it also felt supple too.

I did not experience any breakouts during the more than three-week duration of product use. As mentioned above, there was a light oily sheen in the areas of concentrated use but there was no evidence of dryness or flaking even in the areas that are normally dry for me.

Visibly, however, I have to report that they did not seem to improve my wrinkles. Perhaps it is because it is not easy to undo weeks of damage, and if this is so, this hypothesis needs to be further tested and under better control conditions. But while I cannot prove or disprove these products’ anti-aging claims, I am quite happy with the way my skin feels, visible lines barring.

I am proud that a local product can replace more expensive, foreign imports when it comes to skin cleansing, allowing the local market more accessible options to choose from. For more on Nature Essentials, please visit their Facebook page here. Their products are available for purchase online and also in selected bazaars this season.

Self-Injury

25 Nov

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Originally published in HerWord.com on November 24, 2014, link here.

The first time it happened, Alphonse was barely two years old. Before that day, he had been a happy, if a little “distant,” toddler, and were it not for the diagnosis of classical autism a few months earlier, we could have happily gone on believing that the road to recovery would be a smooth and easy one. When you’re young and naive, I guess you can almost believe your own hype about being a supermom, the one who can fix anything, even autism.

That day, Alphonse was strapped to a hospital bed and tethered by an IV line. He had had an infection raging inside his lungs for days and forcing down oral and rectal medications had become a losing battle of wills. He screamed and shrieked like a howling banshee, only to withdraw and whimper pitifully when we touched him. He struggled and fought desperately, his eyes betraying that wounded animal look we would get to know so well over the years. But he was small, and just barely two, we had the edge when it came to strength and physical power. And so, I imagine, feeling helpless and wanting very much to escape, he did what his mind thought was the logical answer to his woes: he started to bang his head.

It started with one loud thud as the back of his head connected with the headboard of his hospital bed. We all turned around to look for the source of that alarming sound, and before we knew it, he had seized upon the idea of hitting his head with so much zeal that his eyeballs started rolling backwards in his head. We panicked.

The next few days became a whirlwind of anxious anticipation. Only one thing could happen at any one moment: he would hit his head on the walls or we would physically stop it. Most of the time, he won; he was that fast. The times we did, however, he started diving, head first, from the bed to the cold, hard floor. We hardly slept a wink then.

Self injury AlphonsePicture copy

That bruised cheek was the result of weeks of smashing his face- cheek first- against walls.

These self-injurious episodes would come and go over the years. The themes would vary- sometimes it would be head banging- hitting his head, face and ears against walls or his fists; other times it would be teeth-or cheek-bashing, the former the cause of his permanently chipped right incisor; or it would be scratching and gouging of his skin till he drew fresh blood. And although they were actually less common occurrences than the daily, gut-wrenching aggression we lived with for years, these episodes were so severe that it was, in fact, easier to bear with violence directed towards us than to see him beat himself repeatedly.

It is estimated that roughly a third of all individuals with autism and severe intellectual disabilities exhibit varying degrees and types of self-injurious behavior or SIB. The causes of this behavior may differ from person to person, but it is telling that this affects the more severely affected individuals in greater proportion than those who are able to function better socially and cognitively. This most devastating behavior is responsible for limiting the individual’s access to the world around him as the potential consequences include not only permanent injury or death, but isolation from the community, as well.

I write this today as we deal with the aftermath of his current self-injurious phase. After weeks of hitting his head, his right ear is swollen and infected. There is blood pooling in his outer ear, stretching it taut and deforming it. The doctor diagnosed it as perichondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage in the ear and a complication of perichondrial (ear cartilage) hematoma. Laymen know it as boxer’s ear or cauliflower ear and the condition is seen in prizefighters of wrestling, boxing, and full-contact body sports. While it is regarded as a badge of courage for these sportsmen, for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, it is a chilling reminder of the difficulties they face as they try to adjust and thrive in the world the rest of us live in.

Behaviorists teach us that behavior always has an antecedent and a consequence. When I reflect upon all the changes our family has been through these past months, I can understand how this particular behavior reappeared after years of being controlled. That these all started when my dad passed away is particularly significant in its proximity to the onset of these events. Then, our house was in shambles from my parents’ move and our routines were scuttled by the long, necessary days at the hospital and, thereafter, the funeral home. Even today, as we struggle to find normalcy in our post-Daddy lives, what we were before July has become vastly different from what and who we are now. Alphonse must be hurting and grieving, too, and unable to express these, he lashes at himself, perhaps to relieve his sorrow, perhaps to vent his rage. Moreover, it didn’t help our cause when his teacher of more than a year left to pursue other employment opportunities last month, leaving him feeling abandoned and more bereft in his sorrow.

Any change in our environment, family dynamics, schedules and routines can provoke a reaction, we know this only too well. Often, we are able to head off emotional distress successfully and he turns back into his happy self. Regrettably, this is one of those times when we have failed to protect him completely.

We’ve taken all necessary precautions for his protection as we work to redirect his self-injuring energy. Padded cushions of foam mats have been placed on the walls at (his) head level. Where he sits at the dinner table, a plastic corrugated board is duct taped at the edges of the table and glass top to prevent the sharp edges from cutting into his skin. (He has already sustained a laceration on his forehead from hitting it on this edge.) Comforters and other thick beddings cover hard spaces he could get into. Additional foam mats are mounted and spread all over the house- in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in the bedroom- all designed to give him a safer space to move in. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we still cannot protect him from his own fists, and this is an egregious failing that continues to nag at our conscience.

It is extremely difficult to be calm when your child intentionally hurts himself. Still, in these many years, we have learned that it is best not to panic. In truth, we have only succeeded in masking our pain with a seemingly confident assurance that all will be well in the end. Left to our own thoughts late at night, we sublimate our sorrows, busy ourselves brainstorming more ways to keep him safe, and then get back to the real hard work of doing so.

Under “normal” circumstances, the treatment for his ear is simple and can be routinely done even in a doctor’s office. But given his history of aggression, his unusual strength, extraordinary reactions to stress and change, and aversion to medical treatment, this simple procedure of draining the ear will have to be done in an operating room and under general anesthesia. I wish we could spare him of all these troubles, but the option to continue conservative management has been lost. There is nothing else to be done but to stop him from inflicting more damage to himself.

Despite all these setbacks, we are confident we can hurdle these latest lows in our autism roller-coaster life. Although we have lost the sense of peace we value so much in our home, what we have in abundance balances this loss: the determination and vigilance to keep him safe at all costs. With your prayers, dear friends, we will overcome.

We did it before; we can do it again.

The Unusual Man

21 Nov

Originally published in BusinessWorld’s Weekender, November 20, 2014 (Link here.)

JANNE RAUDASKOSKI is a very unusual man. He dreams of talking phones and animated pictures, and while some of us may have had similar dreams in our subconscious, he takes it a step farther than most by turning these dreams into interactive children’s theater.Wally-Watthead-poster

As Wally Watthead, a charming lamp that has “lost his glow” (read: his light bulb is busted), Janne combines magic, clowning, and mime with theater and technology to bring common bedside objects to life. The stage becomes Polly’s nightstand and on it, there’s Simon, a curmudgeonly mobile phone SIM card that reminds us of our once-cherished Nokias, and there’s Polly, a beautiful redhead portrait that comes to life. Wally forms unlikely friendships with these different objects and resolves the problem of his lost glow with their help.

3 - WALLY WATTHEWAD AND POLLY

Things like moving pictures and talking phones do not seem out of place in Janne’s world. As a professional magician and a Finnish and Nordic champion in this field, he delights in bringing magic to everyday life, even if it means pulling money from a startled cashier’s ear at the supermarket takeout lanes. Thankfully, he confesses to having gotten rid of this habit, but this is reflective of the wonder and genuine pleasure he derives from the melding of enchantment and reality. Janne breathes and lives magic and theater, a not-undesirable quality in one on a personal crusade to open children’s minds to curiosity and marvel.

In Wally Watthead and His Lost Glow, Janne is technically a one-man show. He performs all magic and, yes, stunts (try levitating, shrinking, and even jumping into a screen), by himself, save for the ministrations and directions of Simon SIM card, voiced by Jonathan Hutchings, and Polly the Picture, played by Tuija Nuojua. He fumbles a bit — intentionally, of course — and he gains the trust of the little children in the audience with his shy, bumbling clowning. He squeaks and squeals in a funny voice, and even the cries of wee ones suddenly turn into peals of laughter. He swoons over Polly, and the kids whisper their highly audible oohs and ahhs.

5 - WALLY WATTHEAD AND CELL PHONEWally Watthead may be a giant lamp, but obviously, he is as much a child as the little ones in his audience. His feelings are transparent and easy to discern; his actions are honest and clear of intent. While Wally hardly has any spoken lines, he speaks to his viewers with his actions.

With a seemingly uncanny knack for understanding how a child thinks, Wally turns his young audience’s befuddlement into joy and uneasiness into comfort. Small wonder, then, that even a nine-month-old infant was able to sit through the intermission-free 50 minutes without fussing or crying.

Wally Watthead and His Lost Glow is brought to PETA Theater Center by Finland’s Amazing Magic Theater after astonishing audiences — young and not-so-young — in Finland, England, the US and China. This limited run is on its second and last weekend this Nov. 21 to 23. Stow those iPads and game consoles for a while and make sure to bring the family to experience the magic of Wally Watthead and His Lost Glow. -

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