Death talk

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Yup, you are just 3 months away from your 4th birthday’s celebration and we had the death talk already. Beautiful morning of May in Silicon Valley, random weather as it has been lately, heavy traffic which is a constant in the Bay Area and NPR on the radio.

I was listening to the newscaster, various topics of today’s crazy politics were discussed, you were playing with your brother on our way to daycare. I didn’t know how close you were paying attention to the news; however, as soon as your heard the word “dying” you reacted to it. You told me that dying was not good, I was surprised by your comment and wanted to understand where this came from.

I turned the radio off and paid full attention to your explanation, you said that dying is sad, that at daycare people said so. I immediately understood the situation, a couple of days before I learned that a close relative of the daycare owner passed away.

For many years I have feared losing my parents, probably everybody has that feeling; but for some reason it has been always present in my mind since I was a teenager. I have always tried to protect myself from that moment, I have seen how it has deeply affected people around me and I want to feel “safe” from that.

Anyway, as a parent I needed to hide those feelings for a moment to help you understand that dying is not bad, that life is a cycle where at some point people we love so much have to leave and say goodbye. We may feel sad because we won’t see our loved ones anymore; however, it is very important to always remember all the good time we spent together, the laughs we shared, their hugs and how good they made us feel.

I am sure this is one of many conversation we will have about this topic, and the first of many tough topics that I will face as a parent. How to explain something that I haven’t put my arms around?

At the end of the day, I will figure it out. I will always try my best, I’ll get out of my comfort zone to open any doors for you.

Love you.

2016 is over, what happened and what’s next?

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It has been a long time since I posted something on this blog, partially because ideas haven’t been around and also because time hasn’t  allowed it. As we embark on a new journey or cycle, year 2017 as we call it, I think it is the right time to make a pause and recap on 2016 and plan for the next 12 months.

You might remember my 2016 resolutions post, I set 3 goals for the entire year and here is the recap. 1) Finish at least two half-marathons – check, 2) Read six books not directly related to my job – check, and 3) Start learning a new language – hmmm missed. What did I learn from all of this? My first goal was SMART, Specific, Measurable, Atteinable, Relevant and Time-Bound, I even surpassed it by running 3 half-marathons. My second goal was SMART too; however, I lost sight of it. At the end, I met my goal with super exciting books but in a rush to gobble up what I didn’t read during the previous 345 days of the year. Finally, a very well intended but poorly planned goal. I didn’t have a strategy or spent the right amount of time to accomplish it. It didn’t specify the language I planned to learn, the level of proficiency I wanted to achieve and even worse I thought it was not even relevant at some point, so the smallest distraction made me avoid working on it. Everything else are excuses, spending more hours at work, achieving other non-planned goals, enjoying new family members, etc. These are just circumstances we need to manage all along, if we set our own goals we need to focus and work hard to achieve them, if they seem to be farther than expected then recalibrate and work harder, there is no other way to succeed.

Now, what’s there for 2017?

Sometimes destiny shoots new challenges at you, and by destiny I mean reactions triggered by  actions you have taken in the past. After spending many hours training for three half-marathons, counting calories and steps for a couple of health challenges with coworkers and talking nonstop about eating habits, my 2017 goals were kind of easy to set. Here we go:

1) Complete 2017 miles in 2017, this is a walk/run challenge I will complete with my wife as a team.

2) Complete an 11 minute abs routine for more than 300 days this year. The routine is comprised by the following exercises, an 8 min workout from 1994 and a 3 min workout from Bowflex.

There are so many other things ahead in 2017; however, these are the two goals I want to focus on during the next 12 months.

You may be thinking, what about his family or his work goals? Reality is that I enjoy my work every single day of the week, I take very seriously every single challenge that is thrown at me and I always seek for more to take on. As for my family, I can’t set time-bound goals, it has been an amazing ride that I hope lasts until my last day. From my parents, siblings, wife, in-laws and amazing kids I just want to keep enjoying, learning and sharing this incredible journey with you.

Accomplished:

  • Overall steps: 1,547 miles myself
  • Overall days of ABS training: 28 + 24 + 28 + 26 + 26 + 26 + 25 + 28 + 23 + 23 + 22 + 22 = 301

Reflections I

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“$140 esta bien de precio, no?”, “El cambio que me den, te lo doy, ahora sí de verdad”, “Tú nunca tienes dinero para nada”. If you haven’t seen the latest Star Wars movie The Force Awakens, you won’t understand this analogy, but when parents hear these things from their kids is like when Ben Solo (a.k.a. Kylo Ren) said “Thank you” to Han Solo the last time they saw each other. What Han’s reaction was? like any other father who loves his son…drums roll please…watch the movie.

For my English speaking readers, here is the translation of those three sentences I heard over the holidays from kids in a store full of toys to their ashtonished parents: “$140 is a good price, isn’t it?”, “the change I get, I will give it back to you, this time for sure”, “you never have money for anything”.

This made me think about my childhood and myself now as a father. In my childhood I didn’t understand the value of money, the huge effort my parents went through to provide for the family and give me everything I had or how painful it was for them to hear me spitting things like the ones I heard these holidays out of my mouth. I had everything I asked for, no matter what it was I got it, within reason but I got it. The newest bike in the block, the latest game console, the school trip to NASA, the school I wanted and the list goes on and on. After some time I learned how those things happened, I realized how stupid and selfish I was and that those mean words you throw at your parents cannot be taken back.

I’m still not the best son I could be, still working on it, I just hope my teachers, leaders and coaches in life – my parents – see some progress. I am thankful to them and also to all the people that have contributed to making me happy without my knowledge. THANK YOU, you know who I’m talking to.

Now is time for me to provide and educate. Not sure when or how I’m going to start these conversations with CG, nonetheless my goal is clear, I don’t want her be mean (or ignorant) like those kids, to make the same mistakes I made and then regret about it. I just need to rely on my own experience, the education my parents gave me and a partner with great values to help me raise an awesome kid. 

Crying calling papa

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After an amazing time off, we returned home to a new reality, a reality where CG cries calling papa or mama. Yikes.

It may seem like no big deal, however this is showing how she is growing, becoming more aware of her surroundings and getting smarter at getting our attention. She knows that calling mama or papa has an effect, and we need to be careful that it doesn’t mean she is taking control over the situation.

This reminds me of all those YouTube videos where babies just cry in the presence of their parents, or quietly follow them throwing temper tantrums when they know dad and mom are watching. CG has done this kind of things too, but adding mama or papa to it brings it to a new level, it makes me feel responsible for some wrong doing.

Maybe this is Maslow’s hierarchy in full swing, maybe she is moving from her physiological needs to her love and belonging needs. I don’t want to be a shrink or analyze my daughter’s behavior so deeply, just saying that something should explain these recent changes.

As she says, “bye bye” to those days when crying was clearly for a physiological need relatively easy to identify and address.  Now, we need to welcome this new phase in our lives where figuring out her needs is more complicated, the good news, some of this sends me a clear message of “I love you, I need you” papa. I love you too CG.

 

Wise men, a very personal tradition

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Sadly our holidays and well deserved vacations have come to an end, yet there is no better way to say goodbye than celebrating with the three 👑👑👑 Wise men.  

For some reason my father has taken this tradition to his heart, by now everybody knows that around January 5th he and my mom will throw a party to write a wish letter and send it up to the Wise men in a well inflated helium balloon.

This requires some preparation, preparation for a party of more than 100 people that joined us this year, most of which are family members, friends, neighbors, friends of our neighbors and everybody that has heard about it. Some of them were even asking about it before the date was confirmed.

All starts by getting the right size of balloons, #20 I think, not less not more. Getting the helium tank for 300 balloons just in case we have an overflow of requests to the Wise men, paper for the wish letters and a little cord to tie each letter to their respective balloon. 30 Abuelita chocolate bars, 24 liters of milk, 3 Roscas de Reyes, pastor tacos for 100+ people, drinks, tables, chairs, etc.

One or two hours before the guests arrive, inflating the balloons is a task my dad owns, nobody else, except for me when he is distracted. One balloon at a time, until the whole living room ceiling is full of them, doesn’t matter how many or how much time it takes he is in charge. Attaching the little cord to each balloon can be done by anybody else, his staff obviously, this time it was assigned to CG’s mom and me.

  
VaLu is normally in charge of mixing the Abuelita bars with the milk to make us a delicious hot chocolate, same deal as with the balloons, my dad and VaLu are in charge and everybody else is an observer. In this ocasion the observers noted that half of the kitchen wall had chocolate on it before VaLu realized it. Probably she was so focused on the quality that she didn’t pay attention to the messy kitchen she was creating – it was fun though.

As guests came in, my mom kept working on the final details, where to put the food, drinks, chairs for the elders, etc. Aligning all activities for the night, diner first, then making sure that everybody has paper and pen for their wish letter, balloons throwing at the count of three and finally Rocas de Reyes with hot chocolate – like a well coordinated concert.

Kids of all ages and adults of all sorts of life come together this special night, all get to write a letter, all get to dream, all get to ask for anything they can imagine as all of it will come true.

 In some parts of the world people organize parades with the Wise men, in my world my wise man and woman organize a party that makes us come and dream together, a celebration that everybody is waiting for and that for the first time CG enjoyed as she wrote her wish letter, released her balloon to the sky and said bye bye as it was flying away.
This is our tradition of the Wise men, I want to thank mom and dad for keeping it alive and making it so personal, I love it and I’m not the only one.

  
PS. I wish CG gets the four things she asked for. 👍🏼