Dear Ayden

You are at a really fun stage in your life 1 year, 4 months, and 14 days old. I look at you every day and thank God you are in my life. You never cease to make me smile and I know that as you get older that sweet boy of mine will develop his independence.

You love to eat! – And eat healthier than Mommy and Daddy!
It didn’t seem too long ago when eating was your least favorite activity. I think that was when you started becoming mobile and would rather explore your world. But now, whenever you smell food, you immediately say “pa pa pa” and run towards the kitchen so we can pick you up and put you in your high chair.

As we strap you in, you’ll reach out to your food and moan and groan as if we haven’t fed you in days. Your mom and I would just laugh at how cute you are. Your favorite food seems to be green peas right now, which surprises a lot of people.

Then, when you get your food, you seem to favor your left hand as you pinch for the little green peas with your index finger and thumb and feed yourself. You’ll sometimes look at us with a smile of content, as to say “thank you for this food!” that just makes us melt. Then you would grab a hand full of rice and shove it in your mouth. Sometimes you’ll rub the rice in your hair and all over your face, but it mostly ends up on your clothes. Speaking of which, Mommy washes a lot of!

But the best part of sitting down as a family at dinner is watching you entertain us as you play hide and go seek with your hands. Your Mom and I have you believing that when you cover your eyes, you become invisible. It is the cutest thing! Sometimes, when I come home and you are with mommy, you are already hiding from me, always ready to play!

I’m sitting here blogging at work because it is somewhat slow today and nothing needs my immediate attention. But I’m trying not to cry because I know that these moments will not last. One day, you’ll be all grown up and we’ll have our first argument. As I look back at the days when I used to be mad at your Lola and Lolo for not letting me do what I wanted, I now realize that they didn’t do things to make me mad, they did it because they loved me. I realize we can’t protect you forever, but I’ll do everything in my power to reasonably do so. So just because other parents are more lax about what their kids can do, doesn’t mean we should live by the same rules.

Unfortunately, none of this is going to make sense until you become a daddy yourself. Right now, I can only focus on how happy you make me feel because it is the simple pleasures that make you happy.

For example, this morning, I was in a hurry to get to work. I went into your room and you showed me one of your books and wanted to sit in my lap so I can read it to you. So I did. As much pleasure as it gave you for that moment, I couldn’t help but burn that memory in my head. Cause I know one day, you’ll want to be out with your friends rather than hang out with Mommy or Daddy.

I wish I could slow time down and cherish every moment with you. I hate having to leave you each day only to have about 3 hour to play with you before you go to sleep each night during the week. Times are tough in these economic times, but Mommy and Daddy try to shelter all the stresses of adulthood from you.

In fact, we have vowed to never yell at you. This is a large departure from how I was raised (I was a really bad boy sometimes)… I’m sure one day, I would love to spank you, but now, there are different ways to teach respect. I’m not condoning what happened to me because I am happy and proud at the way I turned out, and have no regrets. Part of what I want to teach you is individuality, something I’m still learning. In fact, we should never stop learning because I learn something new every day! For example, even though your Tita Jennifer and I were raised the same, we are two totally different people. And I’m still learning to respect our differences.

But back to why I started this post. I know it may seem long, but so many thoughts have been streaming from my head. I try to list of few of my favorite things that you do:

  • When you run back and fourth with your little play cart, or any cart with wheels
  • When you try to say your little tagalog words – At this point, your tagalog is as good, if not better than mine! You have Mommy and Lola and Lolo to thank for that!
  • Your love for Kix in the morning
  • Your voracious appetite
  • Watching you play
  • When you try to make us laugh by making faces, blinking your eyes, or tilting your head
  • When you try to splash us when we try to get you out of your bath
  • You are growing up to be quite the entertainer
  • When you sleep in church when Mommy sings

But one of my most favorite things is watching you sleep in my arms. It is sad to know that one day, you’ll be too big to do that. For now, I cherish the times that you’ll fall asleep in my arms, although you may struggle with falling asleep at times. But it is when you finally slow down, and your cheek is squished against my shoulder, that I’ll just lean my cheek against your, then follow it up with a kiss and tell you how much I love you.

My First time Voting for President

After watching how our economy went from a surplus into a deficit, I couldn’t complain about Bush because I didn’t vote. For some reason, I was pulled into politics this time around. I usually ignore politics on the news like I ignore sports. Maybe it is because on Digg, I kept on seeing top articles related to politics. Then I started noticing all of the Sarah Palin.

Unfortunately, I’m not in a blogging mood, but I did want to say something about this historical event.

My First Pro Football Game

This past weekend was a blast! I’ll try to write this blog post as I’m suffering from a serious migraine right now… Mental note, lay off the sugar in the morning…

Raiders vs Jets
Likha was invited to perform at the Raiders vs Jets game for Filipino Heritage Month. Since I do not follow football, I have never been to a pro football game. Regardless, I really wanted to be there to support Likha and Bev since she was dancing.

No big lenses allowed
The rules for the Oakland Coliseum are strict. They say that you can not bring bags larger than 18″W x 12″H x 8″D or Cameras with lenses larger than 3″. How in the world am I going to take photos of Likha with those limitations? Also, little did I know that they are very strict on who gets access to the field.

Press Pass!
So I contacted my good buddy Al, who was coordinating this and he was able to get me press credentials from Margarita Argente, the sales manager at Philippine News! All I had to do was go to the Credentials to pick up my pass and red NFL photographer’s vest.

You thought New Kids Fans were fanatic?
The day started early since we had to meet at Herna’s house at 6:45am. I must have been half asleep because I typed in apartment number instead of the street number into the GPS, so I got lost. If anyone knows me, I hate getting lost. But I didn’t let it get the best of me.

Herna wanted us to get there before the tailgaters arrived. Man, I poked fun at New Kids Fans, but Raiders fans are several notches above the teeny bopper fans! I was surprised to see a long line already! I’m just glad Bev doesn’t paint her face with I love Jordan, etc. Those Raiders fans are a dedicated bunch!

Soon after we found where we had to park, the fans started rolling in and setting up their grills, tv’s, etc! It was unlike anything I have ever seen before. The delicious smell of bbq was driving me nuts because all we had was some Micky Dees.

Mae, who is also a photographer wanted to bring her gear in so I was able to bring it in with no problem once I got my pass. I went up to the media credential office 3 times. I thought it was going to be open at 8. After then second time, someone told me it opens at 10. I ended up going there when Likha left. As soon as I got in, I was lost!

Easy to get lost
I started off on the Field level and passed the players lockers. The Raiderettes were practicing and I admired the jiggles. I called a few people and was able to reach OJ, but I he didn’t know the exact location. As I walked around, I finally ran into Herna and Scott.

The really cool thing is that with my pass, no one gave me a problem. I was able to weave in and out of sections. VIP areas, Service Areas, etc.

I’m not a sports fan, but I do recognize the privilege I was given. Unfortunately, I had no clue who I would photograph out there. Mae said I should photograph the Jets #4 guy. If the opportunity presents itself again, I will definitely do my homework, and rent better gear. My lens was probably the smallest out there as I was surrounded by lenses that look like Hubble’s little siblings. Shutter speeds that sound like an Uzi firing off.

I stood beside a Reuters photographer and I was just watching where he was aiming his large white lens – just hoping he doesn’t swing it too fast and knocks off my head…

But I was there to photograph Likha and I spent most of my time doing that. My second role was to take some pictures of the VIPs in the Luxury booth in 66L. After all, it was Al who set me up, so that it was my pleasure. I couldn’t help but wonder what a sports photographer enthusiast would do to get this kind of access.

Ana “The Hurricane”

I met Ana Julaton, and if you don’t know her, she’s a rising star in the boxing world. Although she looks sweet and pretty, she can kick your ass. Honestly, I haven’t heard of her before, but I’ll be sure to do some homework and check out some of her fights.

Damn security
After munching on some food, I went back down to the “pit” area on the Field to meet up with Bev and the other Likha peeps. When they left for food, they weren’t allowed back onto the Field because they didn’t have “credentials”. An overzealous security guard was flexing his authority. Herna was able to work things out but damn, these little wristbands they gave us were useless.

Left Early

Shortly after half time, Bev and I left with some of the Likha peeps. I wasn’t sure if I could keep the vest or not. It looked brand new, and I assume that they give them out because Canon sponsors them.

When I walked back to where I picked up the vest, the office was closed. I walked into another office, and they had no clue what I was talking about. Since I wasn’t told I had to return it, I figure I’ll hold onto it until someone tells me otherwise :-)

We ended up shopping at Emeryville and some guy asked us who was winning (I forgot we were wearing Raiders hats). Then he asked why we left early! Fortunately, he was distracted and we moved on…

I had a blast and I’m a little sore from walking around the Field a few times. I’ll try to post some pictures later!

Catching up on my blog

Anniversary
Last week, on October 9th, Bev and I celebrated our 4th anniversary. We decided to try Luneta Bistro in Burlingame.

I don’t know we bothered to set reservations because there were two other tables other than us that were there on that Thursday night.

Bev and I really aren’t into expensive dinners, but we do recognize that we should treat ourselves every once in awhile. The food was good, but I wouldn’t say it was worth what they were charging for it. For example, my Kare Kare was $22. The portions were pretty large, the meat very tender, and the presentation was beautiful… However, $22 for a plate Kare Kare on a bed of bak choy and mushroom?

Our total bill came around to $72 – which is more than twice we would normally spend. Regardless, we had a great evening. Looking at the photos that hung in the restaurant made me want to go back to the Philippines and take lots of pictures. To this day, I still haven’t seen my parent’s house. We’ll just have to time things right.

On the Job Front
I started this job on September 2nd and haven’t felt this secure about my job for awhile. On the other hand, Bev’s job is up in the air. I never really thought this whole economy crisis would affect us, but it did in several major ways.

Since Bev is in the financial industry, it is going to take awhile for her to find a job if she gets laid off.

Second, we didn’t realize she owned a shitload of stock in her company. Let’s just say it was enough to buy a Porshe 911 Carrerra with cash last year. Now we can barely buy an iPod with it.

This prompted a few things. Although we always felt comfortable that we were living well below our means, no credit card debt, etc. We should be more mindful about where our money goes. We now have an eagle eye view on our net-worth. Let’s just say I’m doing good for my age, but falling behind by 50% by income.

This is a far cry from how I was just 8 years or so. I even have the post of when I became Debt Free. I just remember the huge load lifted from my shoulders and I would look back and wonder how the fuck I got into that situation.

Who would have known I should have bought the fictional book: Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford

The sad thing is I had nothing to show for it.

I learned the hard way, and I had no one to bail me out.

I don’t want to come off like I’m bragging or better than anyone. But I guess the debt situation is similar to folks who work out and talk about people who complain that they are fat. The reality is, it takes hard work and EFFORT to get where you want to be. I’ve been slacking off on my exercise and eating unhealthy food, and it is having an adverse affect on my belly. Good news is that I realize that I have a free Club One membership that I’ll be taking advantage of next week. I’ll have to watch what I eat and exercise to get back in shape. There’s no shortcut to it. Just like there is no shortcut to getting out of debt unless you win the freakin’ lotto or have rich parents to bail you out.

As for money, it is simple. I don’t buy shit I don’t have the cash for. Sounds like a simple concept, but I sure didn’t get it a decade ago. I really want a Canon 5Dii, but I’m not going to buy that expensive piece of hardware until I can pay for it with the gigs I get from photography. That takes hard fucking work. Fun work, but very time consuming. No instant gratification of whipping out my credit card and paying it off later. I’ll know that when I can afford it, I’ll be happy that I earned it and then it can make me more money. I’m on my own lay away plan.

I never want to be in credit card debt EVER again. I would love to have our house paid off, but that is just something that is pretty unrealistic. I have been through the trenches enough for me to see the light. The good thing is that I saw it early enough to not get into bad debt – I was at least paying my bills. My lesson learned: I never want to live beyond our means.

In the past, I never paid attention to the drops in the stock market. But for some reason, I’m watching it now and hate the fact that this sub-prime crisis got us in this shit hole. Who do I get to blame? Am I part of it even though we have a traditional mortgage? Do we blame the people that thought they can buy homes with zero down and can pay well below what you would pay for rent? Do we blame the Banks, or even the Politicians?

I didn’t realize that this was going to turn into a rant. I have a meeting to attend…

Sister went home and my Red Light Incident

Yesterday, my sister went home after completing her 4 week sub-internship at UCSF for Urology. It was great seeing her and she got to spend some time with Ayden.

One thing is for sure, this girl can not pack! I didn’t see everything, but she brought one huge suitcase and another medium sized one, along with her backpack – yet she still had to borrow clothes from Bev! I thought it was hilarious that she packed hangers and a scale!

I sometimes find it hard to believe that we share the same genetic background, but I do love my only sis. She may be high maintenance and spoiled, but I would have to say it is due to the fact that she is a second born, and a girl…

Youngest children, according to birth order theory, tend to be dependent and selfish – as they’re used to others providing for them. But despite the negatives, they’re also quite often the life of the party – fun, confident, and comfortable entertaining others. Read more

It is an interesting article and a short read…

Running a Red Light
On my sister 3rd to last day, I was dropping her off at the Mount Zion Hospital around 5am in the morning on September 24. After I dropped her off, I proceeded to the stop light at Divisadero and Sutter as usual to make my left u-turn to head back to Geary. After I stopped for a second, I looked left and right and just turned, but at that same moment, I realized my freakin error!

But as I would suspect, there just happened to be a cop a car behind me and saw it all happen.

FUCK

I see people speed through yellow lights all the time and actually run red lights. But noooo, there are no freaking cops around I just had some sort of mindfuck and ran the light like an idiot and boom, a swat team is basically on my ass. Sure, I can blame it on the lack of sleep for the last 3 1/2 weeks, but I don’t know. Indirectly, I blame my sister because if I wasn’t driving her every morning, I wouldn’t have been in that situation. But I did offer her the ride and insisted it wasn’t a problem.

So I have a notice to appear in court for a 2153(a) w / red light infraction. A moving violation is 1 point on your DMV record so I may have to go to traffic school.

I was hoping the cop would let me off on a warning since I have a perfectly clean record. The last ticket I got was in high school.

I’ll have to call and make and appointment. I’ll be sure to update.

On a lighter side of news. Bev went swimming with Ayden last night for his 3rd swim! He looked like he was having more fun this time around! We also think his other molar is coming in because he had a slight fever and has been getting up a few times like before.

Deleted my MySpace Account

I forgot to mention that around the same time I deleted my Friendster account, I deleted my MySpace account. I don’t know why I bothered keeping it since all my friends are on Facebook.

Each MySpace page seemed like half the page was full of advertisements.

On top of that, my eyes and ears got tired of the horribly designed pages from people who think they are “expressing” themselves.

At Kuya’s

We waited for about 45 minutes before being seated. This place was totally crowded after church today.

Ayden was ok at church today. When he was watching his mommy sing, he had the biggest smile on his face.

Im blogging from my iPhone, so I’ll make this short.

I deleted my Friendster account today

I haven’t logged in in months and that site is just loaded with ads. I’m not sure if all the Filipinos on there will move to Facebook. Personally, I don’t like the new layout of Facebook because the UI still seems a little clunky.

I think I’ll delete my MySpace page too. I hate MySpace with a passion because it has even MORE ads and the customized pages people make are so annoying and unreadable. Just because you can put an animated background, doesn’t mean you should!

For some reason, I’m holding onto my MySpace account like some people keep junk in a drawer. I have this weird feeling that I’ll use it someday, but I NEVER log into it. In fact, I already deleted most of my photos. That place is mostly run by kids, so maybe I’ll delete it too.

In the end, I’ll just keep Plaxo, LinkedIn, and Facebook.