Sunday, August 30, 2009

Getting lost

I have my kids enrolled in religious education classes at our church . Our church is located deep in the Northwest part of San Antonio outside of loop 1604. This whole area is growing at an a alarming rate but that is for a another blog posting. I try to get to mass as often as I can. After a long work week I have to admit that it can be tough waking up on Sundays. I attended religious education classes all through my childhood. I think my religious education upbringing molded me into the man I am today.

Today was the first day for religious education classes at our church. I have my 2nd and 6th graders enrolled. We usually get down with the kids and walk them into their classrooms. We make sure they are settled into their chairs before we leave them . After religious class the kids are escorted to the church. That is where I usually meet up with them. Or so I thought.

I waited for my 2nd grader to be escorted into mass today by her teacher. She did not show. My wife went to go look for her. She looked and looked and could not find my 2nd grader. She looked out in the classroom and back in the church. My wife said that she got lost and ended up sitting with another teacher in church. She was crying, she said that she had become separated from her class. She asked me why I did not look for her. I told her momma was looking for her and that I had to take care of her 4 year old sister and my mom in church. I promised my 2nd grader that would never happen again. I will be waiting for her as soon as she walks out of her classroom next Sunday.

It reminds me of the time I got lost at Hemisfair 68. I vaguely remember it. I think what triggers my memories of the World's Fair in 1968 (Hemisfair) is that I became separated from the pack.

I'm not sure if my family was going to get on the Monorail or if they were heading to the Tower of the Americas. All I know is that I was wondering around at the World's Fair alone. That is until a female security guard picked me up and put me on her motorcycle. I just remember wearing her hat in the security office and seeing my mom and dad walk in to claim me. I know the security guards gave me a lollipop to make me happy. That is probably where I get my love and appreciation of women. Being rescued by a woman in my toddler years at Hemisfair 68 and being surrounded by women today at home and at work.

What can I say women rule my life!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A letter to the Mcallister Park baseball team.

Just wanted to express my thanks for representing San Antonio in the Little League World Series in Williamsport. Your team did a fine job showing how much fun it is to play ball and yet win at the same time. I know that in the end, it was a heartbreaking loss. You have to give credit to Chula Vista California. They came back after a disappointing loss to our team (San Antonio) earlier in the week to finally beating us in the finals.

Watching your team play in the Little League World Series brought back many memories for me. I also played baseball as a kid with the CYO , YMCA and different "Pony Leagues " around the city. I can honestly tell you those were the best times of my life. No worries, just playing baseball. Don't forget about the life long friendships that are made and the awesome concession stands. I'm sure you guys have had the "suicide" soft drink where you mix all of the flavors of soda's together? What about the Frito Pies and the popcorn? Don't forget about the sunflower seeds and the bubble gum.

My baseball teams never made it that far. So you guy need to hold your head up high. Yeah, so you guys had a terrible 1st inning. Just chalk it up to experience and move on. Don't look back. I'm hoping San Antonio has some type of city wide celebration for you guys complete with a river walk parade .You guys deserve it.

P.S I would not be suprised if my daughter and my neice show up at the celebration. It would be impossible to hold them back. They love you guys!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Exhilarating moments

I was reading one of my dad's chapters in his memoirs last night. The chapter was called "Exhilarating Moments." Like my dad I have had the same similar moments . My dad mentions his exhilarating moments. I will post exactly as he has written them:

  1. Seeing my first son born.
  2. Seeing my other children born.
  3. Buying our first house
  4. Coaching my kids.
  5. Taking trips together.
  6. Watching our children grow.
  7. Watching our children do well in school and in college.
  8. When I met my wife has to be the greatest thing that has happened in my life.

I have also had similar exhilarating moments in my life. Mine are listed below:

  1. Marrying my wife Veronica.
  2. Seeing Monica born .
  3. Seeing Mia born.
  4. Seeing Sofie born.
  5. Buying our first house
  6. Watching my young daughters do well in school. Two in elementary school now.
  7. Have not done much traveling with the family but I am hopeful.

More exhilarating moments to come.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Self improving

"Perfection is what you're striving for, but perfection is an impossibility. However, striving for perfection is not an impossibility . Do the best you can under the conditions that exist. That is what counts. "

- John Wooden

I ran across this article today and I felt like I had to write something about it. I am a big fan of John Wooden and his UCLA dynasty. In the 1960's and 70's he won 10 NCAA men's basketball titles before he retired in 1975. Coach Wooden had some talented people on his teams including Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Lew Alcindor), Gail Goodrich, Sidney Wicks, and Henry Bibby to name a few.

I find myself striving for perfection at work but it is not always possible. I really agree with the second part of his quote, "Do the best you can under the conditions that exist. That is what counts." I find myself doing the best I can with what I am given. I have a lot to do on any given day. I find that organization is a big part of it.

Working at a bank consists of very detailed work. I am always on the phone with clients and I am always out in the field visiting with them. Being detail oriented is a must in the banking industry. I am always trying to get the best deal I can for my client. I am always following up on my work. I think we all make mistakes at work. That is what makes us human. I am always trying to find areas I can improve. I strive for perfection but getting there is not always possible. But I do take advantage of all the tools given to me.

My territory that I am assigned to has one of the top field representatives in the company. I am very fortunate to have her. We have been partners for several years now so we take advantage of each others strengths . Without each other the territory would not be where it is today. My clients respect her and trust her. We find ways to make the territory better. We focus our energies on clients that need a little help getting back where they need to be. If I need help with something I call her . When she needs help with something she calls me. We squabble sometimes like any other partnership, but our aim is the same, to serve our customer. Self improving is also our number one goal.

Back to the original question. Am I doing the best with the conditions I am given? Yes. It is possible to strive to perfection. Coach Wooden did the best with what he had and he won several championships (It does not hurt having Lew Alcindor on your team either!) You and I our not perfect. But we can have fun trying to get there.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New school year thoughts

It's finally here. The new school year. We finished up our school supply shopping and the kids are eager for the new school year to start. The kids have their backpacks ready with their school supplies inside. I thinks it's going to be a good school year. I know when I was a kid going to school I could not sleep the night before the new school year. I was excited. I'm not quite sure why we are putting the kids to sleep early tonight. I know they will be lying wide awake in their beds.

I know my kids will be excited tonight. I expect it to be a long night for them. I don't blame them, new friends and new teachers. It could be nerves too. I don't expect them to eat any dinner tonight. All the arrangements have been made in regards to after school care. The kids will be eating lunch at school and occasionally packing a lunch.

I am excited about my daughter taking the school bus to middle school for the first time. I am a little nervous about that but I know she is mature enough to take on that responsibility. She has her cell phone with her at all times so I feel good about her riding the bus. She also has friends that will be riding with her too.

I know I will be making visits to school during the year. I know I will have to be picking up the occasional sick child or taking forgotten items to school. I know I will be taking field trips this year. I am going to be sad not having them during the day. I know we will be excited to see each other after school.

So here is to all the parents that are going through all the back to school jitters. I just know that the coffee better be ready tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A apology letter to my daughters: I am about to tie up the TV with NFL football

Dear daughters and wife,

I am about to tie up the main TV for a few months with NFL football. As you know I like watching all teams especially the Dallas Cowboys. You probably are wondering why I follow the Dallas Cowboys after they have let me down the last couple of years? Like any Cowboy fan I hope that each year will be the year they get past the first round of the playoffs. As you are aware there will be no Jessica Simpson or Terrell Owens shenanigans, so I know the team will be trying their best.

I am apologizing in advance that we will not be watching the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and ABC Family. We will have to do without the Wizards of Waverly Place, High School Musical, Degrassi, Ruby and the Rockets, Jonas, Hannah Montana. The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, Sonny with a Chance and Phineas and Ferb. You had a good run on the main TV this summer. Now it is my turn.

Maybe you can all become fans of the game? There is some exciting things to watch this year in the NFL with Brent Favre going to the Vikings and Terrell Owens going to Buffalo. Even Michael Vick going to the Eagles (you guys know about him.) So there is some stuff brewing this year in the NFL as you can see. I will explain whatever you need to know about the game . I will explain what routes the receivers are running. I will teach you about the blitz and how to listen for an audible from a quarterback. I will also explain why the referee throws that yellow handkerchief on the field.

So the good thing girls is that we will have the refrigerator stocked with drinks, chips, wings, and other goodies for our football viewing pleasure. So daughters I hope you will come and join me every Sunday, Monday and Thursday night for some NFL football. Who knows maybe one day we will make it to a Dallas Cowboys game at their new billion dollar stadium. Let me save up first!

P.S- Careful Brent Favre I read this morning that the Packers want some shots at you ( girls I will explain the injury he gets at that time!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Do you know this face?

I first met Danny Trejo, the actor, a couple of years ago at a family get together here in San Antonio. Danny has been in countless movies some of which you might be familiar with. He has an impressive list of movies. I will attempt to list some of them. I don't have the room to list them all. These are not in any kind of order:

  1. Heat

  2. Con Air

  3. Desperado

  4. Dusk till dawn

  5. Bubble Boy

  6. Spy kids movies

  7. Grindhouse

  8. The Devils rejects

  9. Reindeer Games

  10. Anaconda

At this family get together he was very nice . He was sitting at the table and answered all the family's questions about Hollywood. I was able to get a few questions in about Con Air and what it was like to work with John Cusak. He also loved meeting my kids and even posed for a picture with me and all of my daughters. And yes he has those tattoos.

Danny Trejo is related to my wife's family. I have met him a couple of times now. I read where he is currently filming the Robert Rodriguez movie Machete in Austin with Robert De Niro , Lindsey Lohan and reports are that Jonah Hill will be cast.

Slice them up good Danny!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A little bit about Cameron Crowe

I'm not sure if any of the younger kids know who Cameron Crowe is. I am a big fan of Cameron Crowe. He is a Hollywood writer and director. I bet you did not know that he is the youngest writer ever to be employed by Rolling Stone Magazine. He had his first article published when he was 16 years old. As a young Rolling Stone writer he went on tour with the Allman Brothers band. At a very young age he landed some major interviews from Led Zeppelin to the Eagles.

I bet you did not know about some of his movies that he has written and directed. These are some of my favorites:

  1. Fast Times at Ridgemont High- This was actually a book based on Cameron Crowe's life experience going undercover as a high school senior and writing about it in this book. This movie launched the careers of Sean Penn,Phoebee Cates, Forrest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz and Judge Reinhold.

  2. Say Anything- This is a classic movie starring John Cusak and Ione Skye. This is a love story about a kick boxer, Lloyd Dobbler (Cusak) and his love for Diane Court (Ione Skye) the over achiever. The subplot revolves around Diane Court's father and his embezzlement of a retirement home.

  3. Jerry Maguire- This is a movie about a high powered sports agent (Tom Cruise) who is fired after having a moment of clarity in which he writes and distributes a Mission Statement calling for more service to the athletes and less money for themselves. He strikes out to form his own agency. Also starring Cuba Gooding.

  4. Almost Famous- This a autobiographical about the experiences of a teenage music journalist who goes on the road with an emerging band in the early 1970s.

  5. Vanilla Sky-a remake of the Spanish thriller Abre los ojos. Starring Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz.
I am very envious of the career that he has had. He was employed by Rolling Stone Magazine during the formative years and has written and directed some of the most memorable movies of all time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The art of collaborating at work

"All your strength is in union, all your danger is in discord" Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In any company there are always challenges. Within a company there are different departments and divisions. Everyone is paid differently. Some employees are hourly, some employees are on salary. Depending on your job description and your level of experience determines your pay. With that said, the challenges of any company always need to be addressed and everyone needs to be on the same page to tackle these challenges.

These challenges require teamwork. The quality that is needed the most between employees and departments amid great pressures and challenges is collaboration. In John Maxwell's "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player,"(Nelson Publishers 2002) Maxwell mentions that becoming a collaborative team player requires a change in focus in four areas:

  1. Perception: See teammates as collaborators, not competitors- If you look at any team you can see the potential for competition. To collaborative team members, completing one another is more important that competing with one another. Everybody is perceived as a unit working together.

  2. Attitude: Be supportive, not suspicious of teammates- People are preoccupied with looking out for their own interests that they are naturally suspicious of just about everyone including their own teammates. Adapt the mind-set where you complete rather than compete.

  3. Focus: Concentrate on the team, not yourself-Where you focus your attention says a lot about whether you compete with others or complete them. "True progress in any field is a relay race and not a single event."

  4. Results: Create victories through multiplication-When you work together with your teammates you can do remarkable things.If you work alone you leave a lot of victories on the table. Collaboration has a multiplying effect on everything you do because it releases and harness your skills but also those skills of everyone on the team.

So the question remains, Are you a collaborative team player? If so, you carry these traits.

  1. You think win-win-win- When you collaborate with others you win, they win and the team wins.

  2. Complement others-Get with someone who has strengths in your area of weakness and vice versa.

  3. Take yourself out of the picture-Get into the habit of what is best for the team.

I think Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's quote " All your strength is in union, all of your danger is in discord," says that we all need to work together for the common good of the company otherwise everything will fall apart.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The importance of reading books as a family

My wife loves to read books. She has read several books since we have been married. She has read all the Harry Potter, Twilight, and True Blood books. She has read countless vampire ,wizard and romance book available. She is setting a good example for all of my daughters. I'm not talking about the subject matter because I really don't care about the vampires or wizards. She is setting a example by her love of reading.

I think it is great that we read as a family. I like to read different books too. I read more business and motivational books. Me and my wife try to read a book to our kids every night before bedtime. We take them to the library once a week to check out books. My kids love hanging out at the library.

I know with the summer months reading is the last thing that the kids are interested in. Kids are more interested in swimming and other things. I know families are getting away from reading. Parents need to make their kids read and turn off the television. Kids can get stuck watching television all day if you let them.

According to Jim Trelease author of the New York Times best seller , The read aloud handbook, he lists 10 facts that parents should know about reading:

  1. Reading is the most important subject in school.

  2. Across the world, children that read the most read the best.

  3. Humans are pleasure seekers. We do things over and over again if we like it. So if you want your kids to read more often, make sure they love it more than they hate it. Keep reading .

  4. Read aloud to them even as infants.

  5. Listening comprehension comes before reading comprehension.

  6. Children usually read on one level and listen on a higher level.

  7. Research shows that children who come from homes with the most print-books, magazines and newspapers have the highest reading scores.

  8. There is a strong connection between over viewing of television by children and under- achieving of school.

  9. Have kids watch closed captioning television.

  10. Have kids listen to audio books.

I think I have the writing part covered for my kids. I am working with my younger kids on basic writing skills . A journal is the best place to start for young kids. I have encouraged my older ones to start a blog, They don't have to go public with it. They can keep it a private blog. Math I don't mess with I leave that to my wife!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting the kids ready for back to school

School is around the corner. The summer vacations are just about over. Let the fun begin. The necessary back to school shots have been taken care of at the doctors offices. If you are like most parents you have been searching for the cheapest school supplies around. Don't bother looking for unnecessary school supplies. My wife just buys the necessary items on the back to school list. No more, no less.

Most parents are trying to get the back to school clothes too. Looking for the elusive back to school sales. With tax free weekend comming up the stores are sure to be jam packed. I have not figured out if I like the tax free weekends. I like the savings but I don't like the crowds. (So don't look for me there!)

There is also the lunch situation. Are my kids taking lunch or are they buying lunch? I am not sure what to think about the cafeteria. You keep putting money into their lunch accounts and they go through those accounts so fast.
There is also the after school situation. Are they going to day care or are they going to be parent pickup?If they are parent pickup it is better to park your car and get down and wait. You could be sitting in the car quite awhile if you decide to wait in the car for your kids. If they are after school care , can you make it before 6:30 pm to pick them up?
There is also the issue of sending kids with additional money for spirit t-shirts, PTA and field trips. Let's not forget about money for the constant barrage of Scholastic books and book fairs.
Here we go again!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coffee anyone?

I am now realizing the importance of coffee in my life. I would have to say that within the last 5 years my love of coffee has really taken off. I usually have my wife set the timer on the coffee pot about 7am every morning. Usually the aroma of the coffee makes its way up the the staircase to the master bedroom where it reaches my nose. Ah, the smell of fresh roasted coffee!

I have a cool coffee travel mug that I take with me every morning. It is the right size. Not too big not to little. I don't drink it black. I'm not that brave. I usually have some type of coffee creamer in it. My wife also has a travel coffee mug. We have all kinds of travel coffee mugs. I also have coffee at work. I know some companies are cutting back with expenses and sometimes coffee does not survive the budget cut.

It's funny that that once we reach a certain age a bell goes off in our head. Once that bell goes off ,all of a sudden we like coffee! Coffee is universal. Coffee can be found all over the planet. Coffee goes well with meetings. Coffee goes well in the classroom. Coffee goes well with breakfast , lunch and desert. Coffee goes well in the car. I was wondering are there any health benefits to coffee? I wonder sometimes if we know for sure. We hear that sometimes there are health benefits. We hear that sometimes there are risks involved with coffee. It is like nobody can decide. So I decided I to find out some answers.

There are several websites that state the following:
  • Coffee may prevent and treat Alzheimer's
  • Coffee may help with diabetes
  • Coffee may help with skin cancer
  • Coffee helps people with Hepatitis C

I will try and remember these things when I am drinking my next cup of coffee. Whatever the case may be, not only does coffee smell wonderful, there are also health benefits. I hope I never run across a article or website that states coffee is now bad for you. I cannot do without my coffee.

Shameless plug: I love McDonald's coffee.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Facebook comes in handy for large families (like mine)

I have a large family. I come from a family of six boys(including me) and three girls. We all have busy lives. We all work, we all have kids that are active. There are a lot of ways to communicate these days. You can pick up the landline. You can use your cell phone. You can text. You can send an email. You can instant message.You can also Facebook.

I have a basic Palm phone. It came with the Facebook application in it already. All of my brothers and sisters have some type of phone that gets Facebook. I find it easy to talk to them anytime of the day. They can send me a message through Facebook, they can chat with me. I can also write on their wall and they can comment later.

I also find it useful when it comes to business clients or contacting my field rep. It is good because business clients can get a glimpse into my family life. It can be as basic or personal as someone wants it to be. I know that my Facebook is personal. At my age I don't have anything to hide. It has some pictures of my family. It also has pictures of my large extended family.

Facebook has some fun applications too. You can send one of your Facebook friends a drink, you can join Mafia wars with them, you can take tons of quizzes. I took a Star Trek quiz which was quite entertaining.

How old does one person have to be to have a Facebook account? I don't know. I know my sixth grader has asked me for one. I think she is a bit too young for Facebook. I would not be surprised if my mom and dad ask me to start a Facebook account for them.

I will see you guys. I am going to Facebook now.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

“Childhood is the most beautiful of all seasons.”Author Unknown

I miss my childhood. I believe I had a normal childhood. Growing up in a family of nine, how normal can that be? I am one of six brothers and three sisters. Growing up in the late 1960’s and the 1970’s, things were really simple back then. We all played sports. I played baseball and basketball. I really did not have a brother close to my age. I was either too young or too old to hang out with anyone that is with the exception of my sister Rosie.

We were close in age. We were in the middle of the pack. We did everything together. She was my partner in crime. While my big brothers were out conquering the football fields me and my sister Rosie were up to no good. I guess you could say we were both the middle children. Poor thing, she was usually at the end of my practical jokes gone awry. I remember one summer when I accidentally set her hair on fire. I am not sure why or how that happened. I was not playing with matches like every other kid out there. I think what happened is that I did the evil brother thing and threw a “black cat” firecracker at her and somehow it magically ended up near her head thus causing her hair to catch fire. Too see her eyes’ tearing up was heartbreaking even as a mean kid. Our mom rapidly put the fire out.

I remember another incident we actually teamed up to set an empty lot next to our house on fire. I am not sure if it was due to fireworks or not. This one I believe can be attributed to matches. To see that empty lot next door in flames was a sight to see even for a little boy. I remember running to my room and hiding from the world at that point. I think what I was really doing was hiding from the sounds of the fire department. That was scary enough. Something even scarier as a kid is waiting for your dad to get home after you have done something drastically wrong. Just the anticipation of waiting for your dad to get home and give you the worst spanking on the planet was enough for a kid to sign up in the witness protection program. My sister Rosie was just as scared hiding under the blanket in her room.

For some odd reason I used to like to throw rocks as a kid. Find me one kid who does not like to throw a good rock. I stumbled across the best rock in the neighborhood one day. I threw it at a neighbor who was sitting on top of his mother’s station wagon. Sure enough the back window splattered into a million pieces.

That was over thirty years ago. To this day me and my sister are still close. She is not married and does not have any children but she still treats my children as her own. She still comes over for dinner and helps to pick up my kids from school. My kids occasionally play jokes on her and we both smile at each other. I think we talk almost every day. We give each other advice on different subjects from money to relationships. Occasionally we get that gleam in each other’s eyes. That gleam that means someone is going to get a prank pulled on them.
I am going to hide the matches from my kids as far up in the kitchen cabinets as I can.

Immigration building a bridge to a family's future

In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.-Alex Haley

I wanted to thanks my great grandparents for crossing the border into Laredo Texas in 1906. I know it was not easy leaving everything behind in central Mexico.They were looking for a better life here in the United States. What they did on that hot day in 1906 had a ripple effect in time that could have never been imagined. Little did my great grandfather know how powerful his walk across the border would be. My grandparent's were carried over the border as babies by their parents.

My grandparent's were very hard workers. They had a great work ethic.My grandfather was a route salesman delivering sweet bread or "pan dulce" for a local Mexican bakery. My grandmother used to shell pecans. She also worked as a maid and picked cotton with my dad, who as a boy at the time. Nothing was handed to them. Their house was located in the barrio of San Antonio. They rented the house of course. My grandmother made all the necessary repairs to the house. While my grandfather worked she would upholster the furniture, fix sinks and toilets and paint the house.

My dad was also a hard worker. He was dedicated to his family. He did everything from a produce street salesman, to a steel worker. From a parking garage attendant to a bus driver. He finished his work career as a director of building operations for the local utility company. My mother worked a for the phone company for a bit. She became a stay at home mom. I was one of nine kids. Nothing was handed to us either. We were poor growing up but as kids we don't know what social class we belong to. We did not know if we were rich or poor.

I know it would not be easy for my great grandparents to cross into Texas today. It would be very difficult. The United States border patrol is extremely active. They are are high tech with surveillance cameras everywhere. The Texas Governor Rick Perry has committed 1,000 troops and 135 million for border security. This will help curb the drug cartels from spilling into Texas. This will also be done with the help of aerial drones, high tech cameras and the controversial border fence. I know that the U.S does trading with Mexico and Canada with the North American Free Trade Alliance (NAFTA). This has been good for all three countries.

I am sure that if my great grandparents or grandparents were alive today, they would see the end result of their sweat, strain and hardships. They would see that all of my brother's and sisters are professionals here in Texas. We are all operating nine different households. We have a lot of professions covered. We are bankers, policemen, teachers, and insurance adjusters. By the time we all retire , we would have contributed millions of dollars in taxes. We exercise our right to vote. With the economy things have not been easy for my brothers and sisters but we are surviving.

I am the end result of that border crossing in 1906. My brothers and sisters and all of our families are the rewards. I hope that I am making my great grandparents and grandparents proud.