Friday, December 14, 2012

Lucky & Grateful

Today I count myself as a lucky father because you made it home safely from school. Hope I never have to explain to you why today that is quite a statement to make. Every moment we have together is special. Days like today remind me that I have so much to be grateful for. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Telling Stories

It has become a new thing between us to tell each other stories. 

I have never seen someone enjoy the stories of my vaccinations as much as you have. I guess knowing that the person whom you count on being able to protect you having gone through the same "I have to get a shot" horrors will do that. It is heart-warming to see you laugh as hard as you do when I tell you about how they just stuck the needle on my butt-cheek with no warning!

I love hearing your stories as well. It is amazing to hear you tell what the world is like to you. The things that you notice, your attention to small details, is incredible. The world is such an interesting place as told by you. I love to hear the excitement in your voice. There are times where your words cannot keep up with your brain (which appears to be racing!). I love every minute of it.

I am looking forward to seeing you after school just to hear what new stories you have today.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Learning Together

I realize that sometimes I push you hard. Lately I have learned that isn't always the best way to handle things. You always say that I know everything. The truth is that when it comes to being a father it is a work in progress. I am learning on the job really. Just as much as you are getting to know me and how to navigate the world I am trying to get to know you and navigate the world as a father. 

It isn't always the easiest of things to know how to get the best out of others. There are hundreds of failed CEOs around the world that will tell you that. It takes a special kind of person that is able to be patient, to be insightful, and inspiring to make sure that others can maximize their potential. In many respects being a father is like being the CEO. The buck stops with me. Your successes and failures will be a reflection of the job that I do during your formative years. It is one job that I plan on getting right.

The same way that successful executives are able to adjust to changing conditions I have begun to adapt. I have begun to notice what works and what does not in inspiring you. You have only been in kindergarten for less than two months and yet the changes we have made working together are visible. There is less frustration and friction between us. The conversations that we have take detours that lead new insights into the things that you enjoy and are curious about. Homework is no longer work. The last few days we have had fun doing homework.... I can't believe I actually wrote that, but it is true.

Unlike many scenarios that you will encounter in your life, our relationship is a two-way street. I have as much to learn from you as you from me. The more time I spend with you actually getting things done the more I realize how important our relationship is to the both of us. I get to pass down and teach everything I have learned which gives me satisfaction. You in turn get to take that and build upon that foundation what kind of person you will one day become. My hope is that I am helping you build a strong foundation that will be able to support you regardless of the challenges that this crazy world throws in your direction.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Love You

I love you more than I am able to put into words. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why I Write this Blog

I hope that you never have the unanswered questions that are swirling around me and my siblings tonight. Your father will not be a stranger to you. You will have great memories of time spent together. You will be able to tell your friends how great he is and how much he means to you. There will be no questioning his love for you. There will be no wondering who he was or what made him the person he was. Through this blog I want to complete the picture of who I am that you are too young to see.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Falling in Love with Science

Yesterday you came out of school talking a mile a minute about what you learned about in class. Elephants and tusks, poachers and lions, how they circle up to protect the young... and on and on you went... a good half hour of interesting facts that you learned during your school day. After your mother got home you kicked into high gear once again. I have not seen so much excitement out of you in any of the many things that you have done in school so far. 

You are five years old and yet the passion that you showed made me smile. The way your words jumped from your lips filled with excitement, enthusiasm, and energy would make even Einstein happy. I love that you have already taken interest in learning. It is so hard to get people to want to learn these days with all the distractions that it is refreshing to see that. 

I will renew a promise I made to you. I promise that I will foster your passion and enthusiasm. I will help you in every way I can to make sure that you can learn and experience as much as you want. I will introduce you to new things and explore the world with you (in life as well as through books and the internet). I promise to help you work on science projects, answer questions about the cosmos, consider hypothetical, and explain the unexplainable (or at least help you discover answers).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Discoveries Await

I am not sure why things happen in this world. Everyone has a theory on the reasons or lack thereof as to why things unfold as they do. It is part of the great mystery of life. There will be answer to a lot of questions and many more will go unanswered. We know a lot about how the world works, why we need oxygen, why the sun rises, and even more than we do not. A lot of it is left for us to discover and imagine the possibilities.

It is a simple concept that can be applied to everything and anything in our lives. Take family for example, there is plenty of things we know about The Santos. We know that Carlos is a "jokester" as you say. I have been saying it for years, Janae looks like your titi Dili when she was younger. You say that I am "loco", and I don't think you will find anyone that could argue with you on that point. There are a lot of things that have surprised you about our family. This week you found out that your dad was a "rapper" and that he has performed in front of people. I shared that little tidbit when you confided that you get a little nervous when you have to do your ballet routine in front of people. Just think about the many thousands of things that you do not know about your own parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. 

The beauty of it all is the journey where we have the opportunity to discover these sometimes funny, weird, or interesting facts. Keep your mind open and use your imagination. Even the dullest of subjects can lead to hidden surprises that can delight. There is something behind everything. Even if they tell you that there isn't do not fall for it, they just haven't figured it out yet.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Geek in the Making

Last week was your first day of kindergarten. Through quite a bit of good luck and blessings you were accepted into a magnet school with incredible support from the local community as well as local and state government (in an age where education cuts are the norm this is great news). My favorite part about the school is the curriculum; t is centered around science and technology. Your father, if you did not already know, is crazy about those two subjects. Always has been.

At home you have been exposed to a wealth of technology that not everyone has the chance to experience. You have sat with me, although not sure what was going on, as I either fixed or messed something up because I was tinkering. I already see that you like to tinker yourself. I love hearing you ask questions that go beyond the looks of an object and get into its function. I promise to support you in all your dreams and desires, even when they are not a particular interest to me. If it so happens that you choose a career that interests the both of us then... well... you know... :)

You are very much a "girly-girl". The dresses, nail polish, and accessories makes that undeniable. You also have another side to you, a curious side. You love to learn new things. One question answered leads to many, many, many other questions. I love that about you. I hope that as this year progresses you learn to love that about yourself. There is nothing better than someone who realizes what makes them great and embraces it. It has only been a few days since you started and I can already see a shift in focus, a change in the way you formulate your thoughts.

Watching you learn, explore, and think makes me a proud and happy father

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

3 Things You Said

In the last week you have said some things that have made my jaw drop. In no particular order:


  • I like Justin Bieber.
  • Girls like strong guys
  • Mami doesn't say it, but she wants to be rich.
The Bieber comment had me worried as I saw a reflection of your aunt with her Bieber-fever. Thankfully your mother explained that there is one of his songs that you have taken a liking to, and not him (I let out a big sigh of relief on that one). 

The strong guy comment was your 5-year-old opinion on why your mother wants me to workout. Although she has never quite voiced it in such a manner you could tell that exercising makes a man strong, mami wants your dad to workout, you connected the dots all too well for your age. (note to self: she is wiser than she should be for her age).

The "rich" comment was hilarious. You told your grandfather that I could not keep from laughing. We both know your mother and we know that she likes nice things. You already have begun to realize that it takes money to have nice things. The more nice things you want the more money you need. So young and well on your way to understanding how the world works.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Glimpses of My Daughter

My, oh my!
cannot believe my eyes!
beautiful as a sunrise
you are, child of mine

Beyond what can be seen with eyes you are amazingly beautiful. You are a very funny kid with a ton of sass. Your mind is so curious and you are so persistent I fear for your schoolbooks. In so many ways you are a rare concoction equal parts Yasmine & Rafael. The more you show your inner self, the more you talk (and you do plenty of that!), the more we watch in awe. An expression that reminds me of your mother or react to something the same way I would.


I count myself a lucky man having you in my life. The amount of joy and happiness that you bring to my life is priceless. To hear you spin tales formed in your imagination or to make note of something you found interesting in the world is heart-warming. I can see the wheels turning inside your head when you make a connection between something you are encountering for the first time and something that you have learned before. I love spending time with you as every moment has the potential to be a memorable.



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Graduation

A few days you graduated from pre-school! It was a monumental moment to our family. There were a lot of smiles mixed in with some tears of joy at seeing you reach another milestone in your life. It was a beautiful event. Seeing you in your cap and gown made your mother and I extremely happy and proud. It brought joy to our hearts to see our little girl carry herself like a little lady.

Hearing you address all the parents that were there without missing a beat was pretty cool. Most people, even big people as you call them, are terrified about speaking in public. I loved how you sang in front of everyone with so much confidence and ease. There some of your classmates who felt overwhelmed, and yet you carried on just as you did when it was just us practicing at home. 

I want you to know how incredibly proud we are of you. We will be here to walk with you and watch as you conquer your next challenge... kindergarten. Remember to have fun and to do your best; everything else will fall into place. I promise that we'll try not to cry too much on your first day at your new school. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Time for Everything

"There is a time for everything."


Do what you must when you must. Let your mind as well as your heart decide what you must do and when you must do it. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Storms Test Foundations

Never allow anyone to lay a finger on you. Never. There is no excuse or reason that warrants forgiveness of such an action. It is like the saying "give them a hand and they will take an arm." Once you set a precedent of forgiveness they will start one of abuse. The finger is not only a physical one as there are dozens of ways to hurt another person without having to strike them physically.


A house is only as strong as its foundation. If you build the house of your relationships, friendships, and the like upon a foundation that is rotten the house is bound to come crumbling down. The storms that are sure to come will not allow a home with a rotted or otherwise weak foundation to last.


In nature the storms consist of tornadoes, hurricanes, and the like. In your life it is your mother's wrath and your father's rage. This earth has not seen fury like we would unfurl upon those who wish to hurt you. We will raise you as best we can and may God grant you wisdom to make good choices and keep you from bad company. As you get older I will tell you more as to why things must be so.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Are You Ready?

I am going to push you to be the best you can be. 


I was trying to teach you how to spell one word at a time. Then **bam** something hit me. Why do I want to teach you how to spell words? In reality I could care less if you could spell, phones and computers can do that for you. I want you to learn how to think and communicate. I want you to be able to read and learn. To be able to manipulate thoughts, understand, analyze, create, and beyond.


So why teach you words?

I decided that I am going to teach you to read and write sentences (which involves words). Instead of teaching you small parts of the puzzle and later on bringing all the lessons together I am going to try something different. I am going to show you the whole big problem, the big picture if you will, and challenge you to try to find a way to beat it. I recently showed you that the same words that are in your princess books are also in my books. Come to think of it reading A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin tells me that like you I like stories about Kings and Queens; we won't talk about the differences for at least another 15 years though.


Kids are smarter, stronger than we think.


I have seen a hunger in you to learn. I have also seen that you are able to recall information weeks after you have heard it even when you only heard it once in the midst of a lot of distractions. Time to push, time to challenge, time to see what my baby is made of. If you are anything like your mother and your father it will be an interesting adventure. I have plans to teach everything that I know and then some. I want to have to Google things in order to answer your questions, to have to consult with experts to satisfy your curiosity. 


Are you ready? Tomorrow bootcamp begins!

Friday, May 18, 2012

5 Years



Today was your fifth birthday!



It is amazing at how fast these past five years have come and gone. I can close my eyes and feel like I am still there in the hospital awaiting your arrival... holding your mother's hands... looking at the heartbeat monitor... Five years ago my life was changed forever! Every day ever since has been filled with joy and happiness that is hard to describe.


It was an amazing day. Amazing.


At the time of your birth we wished you happy birthday. You woke playing with your cousin. Cupcakes at school. A party with your friends and family after school. Quality time with your parents to end the day. So many smiles, memories,  moments were created today. Your mother and I are extremely happy and grateful for having you as a part of our lives.


Thank you.


For being such a sweet and loving daughter. For being the sunshine that cuts through the clouds when our days seem overcast. The reason to smile when things are not going right. Thank you for being you, my daughter. I love you!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shoelaces

There are so many things that as adults we can do that we take for granted. Things that we have been doing for so long that we could hardly remember not being able to do them. I have very vague memories about learning how to tie my show laces. So vague in fact that I have no clue who taught me or at what age I learned to do it. I just know that if my laces are untied I can can do them before my face meets the pavement.

I believe that children should learn at their own pace. As parents your mother and I try to keep you challenged, allowing you to push yourself to be better. Being that you are our child I know how stubborn you can be. Don't even think about arguing about that one. Stubborn as mules we Santos are. We do keep an eye out when you are in the mood to experiment or want to learn something and then the pushing begins.

Although you are almost turning 5 in a couple of weeks we had not really pursued you learning how to tie your laces. Sooner or later you were going to want to learn. Last week your mother made a comment and heard you mention that you would like to learn. I took off my hoodie and showed you what you needed to do to tie your laces:

  1. make a bunny ear with your right hand, and pinch it with your left hand. (since you are right-handed this works better than pinching it with your right)
  2. with your right hand pick up the other lace and put it over your left thumb
  3. bring the lace down and around your left index finger
  4. push the lace through next to your left thumb
  5. pull both bunny ears
In my haste and desire to teach you I hardly noticed that you were hungry and salivating at the dinner plate your mother put in front of you. I looked to the right and got "the look" from your mom that said to stop. I quickly repeated the instructions and proceeded to have dinner with my wonderful girls.

After dinner I told your mother that in a week you would be tying your laces. She reminded me that we had to make sure that you kept practicing or it was not going to happen. Busy as life has been, me not feeling well, and us having so many other things to work on that we did not practice. I was going to have to eat crow since you were not going to be tying your own laces.

Then this morning...

Pressed for time and trying to get you to school on time I asked you to put your sneakers on. I said I will tie your laces as soon as I got out of the shower. However, a light bulb went on in my head. I said "why don't you put them on and try to tie them, if you need help I will do so after my shower." You then asked me "don't you want to watch me do it?"

Here is where most parents, dealing with the hustle and bustle of life, mess up and don't take the time to enjoy the small pleasures that life offers us. I decided to watch. In complete disbelief I watched you perform the instructions I had given you a week earlier flawlessly. In less than a minute you tied your right pink Converse. Maybe a fluke. I was not going to celebrate prematurely. Then you quickly moved on to the left pink Converse. This time faster than before you executed the instructions as if you had always known how to tie your shoelaces. 

The hollering and celebration ensued!

My baby is growing up. Small little steps. I am most amazed at how much dexterity you showed with those laces. Truth be told I was more impressed with the way you remembered my instructions a week later when I was sure that you were not paying attention to me. With every passing day you surprise me with how smart and capable you are. I am looking forward to our next challenge, to our next achievement.

Oh yeah here is a video of the second time you tied your laces... 


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Do Not Assume

Say the things you feel and think.


Do not hold back. Share your opinions, thoughts and feelings with those around you; family, friends, and acquaintances. Be thoughtful of how you say it and the circumstances in which you are saying them. Just make sure that you say them. Assuming others know how you feel or what you are thinking is foolish. For as much as we want others to understand us, even the ones that are closest to us have a hard time seeing things from your point of view.


Some times it is not about your point of view. It is about letting people know what is important to you. I always tell you that I love you. You some times reply with that sassiness that you are known for that "I already know that!". Maybe you do. Maybe you do not. The extent of my love for you is something that you will not understand until you have children of your own in a very distant future. There are things about the way a father loves his daughter that you might never come to understand.


When I tell you something, even if you think you already know it... listen. You might learn something new or learn to see things differently. One of the wisest men to ever walk this earth was wise because he accepted that his knowledge was limited. Socrates was wise because he was aware that he was not all-knowing. In many ways you are like me and think that you know everything. I learned a long time ago that I don't know everything. So I listen. I read. I learn.


You can teach the teacher. So although you might not know everything you can still have some insight or nugget of information that I do not. Speak up and teach me. There is nothing more satisfying for me than to learn something new from someone I have taught so much to. It is one of the greatest pleasures in life; to receive something from someone who once depended on you for everything.


Never assume people know where you stand. Speak your mind. Enjoy life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

10 Years

We were friends. We talked all the time. It was not going anywhere. Then one night things changed. Our lives where never the same after that. One thing led to another and here we are ten years later.


This is how your mother and I started dating...


We already talked on the phone or the "key-up" (Nextel 2-way radios) every day like clockwork. I hit her up as soon as the 6 train came up for air after Hunts Point Avenue. I knew she would be getting into work as I was finally getting home after a long day. Things went on like that for months. Never did make plans to hang out. We enjoyed talking to each other but there seemed to be no spark. Over the phone it was hard to gauge what was going on. 


One Friday night...


I was at home with nothing to do. Come to think of it a lot of my Friday nights were like that. I would come home from work and hardly have much to do if there was no one on the block. On this particular night I had nothing to do, did not feel like working on my music, there was nothing on TV. I was half asleep when my phone went off. It was your mother. After some small talk she asked me what I was doing. I said that I was falling asleep since I had nothing to do and then...


She asked me if I wanted to hang out. I stammered, stuttered and said "hell yeah!"


I rushed! Left my house like I stole something. I looked like hell. Wide-leg jeans and pumas. What the hell was I thinking? Your mother though saw something in me. Lucky me. Her night wasn't going as she planned, I turned out to be a last minute backup plan. I am glad she called! We had a crazy night running around The Bronx. From Castle Hill to Jimmy's Bronx Cafe. From East to West. That night we started a journey that continues til this very day...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

False Idols

I am an imperfect being.

A saint and a sinner. I hope that you look up to me as you grow up. Look up, never idolize; even I am not perfect.

The same goes for every last human walking this earth.

Movies, music and TV will sell you everything they think you want to buy. Remember, it is nothing but smoke and mirrors. An image created by countless make-up artists, managers, stylists, special effects and photoshop. See the trail they blaze and be inspired. Do not look to people in search of perfection. God and Nature will provide that.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

No Call

I hope and pray that you never do as I did this week. 


I will do everything in my power to make sure I do not put you in a situation where you would even want to. I did not call my father for his birthday because I believe he does not deserve it. Too long is the story. Too many tears have been shed. It is sad when a child dreads dealing with his own father. I hope that you never have to feel the things that I have dealt with in my life. 


I hope that you always call me on my birthday. No. I hope that you come see me on my birthday.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bridges and Fire

Life is not scripted.

I can fill up a book with analogies and metaphors regarding life and how we cannot foretell what will happen in the future. I won't bore you. Here is the short version:

a. we cannot tell the future
b. we need to cross bridges on our life's journey
c. if you burn them you will not be able to go back, some times not even forward.
d. bridges=people, opportunities, relationships, jobs

Think about what that means. It is better to have options and easy ways to walk over rivers. Life is difficult. There is no need for you to make it any harder by burning your bridges.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My New Daughter

It is a beautiful sight.

Heraclitus said that we never cross the same river twice. We never meet the same person twice. Every time I see the new you I cannot believe what I see. I have seen you grow from a tiny little thing to the amazing child that you are now. I look forward to seeing the new you every day. It is amazing just how much you change on a day to day basis. From wanting to be a Rock Star one day, to saying that you want to be a veterinarian the next, to loving a particular show to dismissing it for the main character still having the same hair and outfit in every episode. Your ever-expanding vocabulary impresses me. I have actually heard words come from you that adults would never use. 


The new you.


I am loving this stage. The fact that you are interested in learning everything, that you ask questions and that you no longer resist when we try to show you something new is a pleasure. The seeds that we have planted in you are beginning to bloom. You are starting show more than a passing interests in the things that you do. Also the lessons about life we have taught you are taking root into your personality. I have heard that children are a reflection of their parents. In your case, you are us, genetically as well intellectually. 


The seeds planted.


"Finish what you start." -mom


"Yes you can." -me


"You have to practice." -me

"School is important." -mom


The blooms.


Just the other night you refused to go to bed and finish your numbers the next day. Your reason for refusing? "I have to finish what I started Papi!".


You were having trouble with one of your toys yet kept telling yourself that you could do it. It took longer than it would have if you had asked for help. It was great to see that you wanted to get it done yourself.


You have been in ballet the last two years and lately you have wanted to practice at home. It went from being something you did at ballet class to something that you want to practice to get better on your own time. A small adjustment in attitude in life can pay large dividends later in life.


The last one had me shocked. You told us that everyday you want to come home and do homework because school is important. You said "I have to do homework because I am going to kindergarten soon. Some times you guys forget... don't forget okay?".


Proud.


It feels good to get validation from the person that matters most that our parenting is working. I don't need any prizes or plaques to tell me that I am doing a good job as a father. I think I can speak for your mother and I in saying that just seeing you progress and grow into such an amazing little lady is reward enough. I look forward to meeting my new daughter after work. I wonder what new things you have learned or what new thoughts have occurred to you. I guess I have to wait to meet her after work.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Love Yourself

I found this picture in a story by the New York Daily News (Link) and was bothered by it. Let me explain why.


Beauty.


Beauty is beyond skin-deep. It takes a loving heart, a pure soul and a mind devoid of deprivation to be beautiful. It is more than what meets the eye that makes a person beautiful. You were born into a world where a lot of people will sacrifice everything, including their souls, to fit a physical mold. Striving to an imagined ideal beauty many have led a life filled with pain, disillusion, self-conscious insecurities and shallowness. Too much importance is placed on appearances, little to the things that really matter. This picture whether intentional or not may lead young girls to believe that they have to aspire to look different in order to be beautiful. You are too young for me to get into the specifics of it all, just know that you do not need to fit another mold in order to be beautiful. You are perfect just the way you are.


Love yourself.


Two words that can change the meaning and quality of your life. Love yourself. If you do not love yourself how can you expect others to? How will you find happiness in the world when you cannot find happiness within without loving yourself? Love yourself, everything about you, from your beautiful smile down to your stubbornness, your sense of humor to your imagination! There are things that you won't be able to change about yourself, things that you will want to work on. I am still working on my procrastination and I have been around a lot longer than you (I still haven't gotten it right). In spite of my short-comings I still love myself. I hope that as you grow up you do as well.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Education=More Zzz

Preserve your beauty sleep

Stay in school. Pursue your dreams and you'll be able to dream at night. I woke up at 2:00 AM because I need to. I would much rather be in my warm bed, unfortunately I can't. A better education means better opportunities. Those opportunities can lead to careers where you are not waking up at ungodly hours to put food on the table.

Sleep is the tip.

The repercussions go far beyond what your young age could possibly comprehend at this point in your life. When the time is right I will teach you a secret that took me about 28 years to discover. In the mean time enjoy being a kid and follow our advice even when you don't get why we're pushing you so hard.

You'll thank us later.