Goodbye 2014

As I’ve done many times in the past, I’ve decided to give 2014 a quick once over and reflect on some of the events that took place this past year that stood out to me. While this list is in no way exhaustive nor is it a complete recap of 2014, all of the things that caught my eye significantly impacted me in some way.

  • I became the parent of an adult child – Sarah turned 18 this year. I still contend that this is not even a remote possibility since she was just born like three years ago. Regardless, I was in no way ready to admit that I was old enough to be the parent of an adult child. I still believe that I am not that old. But I suppose you can’t argue with time.
  • My second kid tested out of school early – Rebekah decided she was done with school and took the CHSPE. By passing the exam she was able to forgo the second half of her senior year and will instead be enrolling in junior college come January 2015. To say that this kid is driven is to not even come close to describing her.
  • I established new friendships and strengthened old ones – In both my personal and my professional life I’ve been able to establish new relationships. Professionally, this year saw a number of my closest working relationships change because of job changes. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has been a negative thing. In fact, I am very happy for my former coworkers since they are now fulfilled in their careers. Personally, I’ve had the fortune to become much closer to some of my friends that, before this year, I was not as close to. Situations have changed, priorities have shifted and the stars aligned to allow me to develop some very close friendships this year. For that I will be forever grateful.
  • Dr. Seuss overtook my family – All five of my children were involved in Stage 1 Youth Theater’s summer production of Seussical. Sarah was the audition and rehearsal pianist, Rebekah was the stage manager (first time managing the stage!!!), Adriannah was the Cat in the Hat, Alaynah was Mrs. Mayor and Aaron was Mr. Mayor. This presentation single handedly took over my summer but it was so worth it to see all of my kids participate in a show together.
  • I became president of a baseball league – Aaron has played baseball the last two years as part of Centerville National Little League. This past year I was elected as President of the Board of Directors for the league. Not sure what I was thinking exactly by taking this position on, but for now it is a blast since I have an excellent supporting cast of amazing board members.
  • AJ became a football player, I became a coach – AJ decided he wanted to play football this year so we signed him up for Fremont Football. If that wasn’t enough of a committment, I decided to assist the team this year by coaching as well and by the beginning of the season I was the offensive coordinator. To say that I was overextended would be an understatement, but I enjoyed every minute of it and I believe Aaron did, too. He was the smallest player in our division (he was minimum league age for the division… by 32 days) so this year was more of a learning year for him. But by the end of the season I can honestly say that he developed his own player character and is setting himself up for some amazing things in future seasons. And if nothing else he will forever have this chip on his shoulder that should do well in protecting him for the rest of his life.
  • Racial tension became a nationally prominent thing again – The Michael Brown case happened this year. The Eric Garner case happened this year. The media happened this year and things got wildly out of control, to the point that people were protesting around the country, closing freeways, staging die-ins and ultimately targeting and murdering police officers. In my opinion the actions of the protestors were ridiculous and completely counterproductive to bringing positive attention to their cause. Regardless, many people jumped on the #HandsUpDontShoot and #ICantBreath bandwagons and still many others jumped on the loud protest bandwagon. The racial divide in this country was already pretty bad, but at the end of 2014 they are much worse, in my opinion.

So that’s a brief look back on 2014 for me. Like I said, there were A LOT of other things that came to pass this past year. Some that, when I look back on them, I cannot help but smile and others that, when I look back on them, I can’t help but feel sadness. Either way, what happened, happened, and I pray that I am a better man because of it. Likewise, I pray that your 2014 wasn’t something to be bitter over but was instead something to want to be better in spite of. And I also pray that your 2015 is bountiful, fruitful, abundant and positive.

I tip my glass you. Here’s to an amazing 2015.

Bidding farewell to 2012

It seems to be a common thing for me, at New Years, to write a post about the year that is being put to rest and/or about the year that is about to be birthed by the changing of the clock at midnight. I’ve recently read posts I’ve written from the end of 2005, the beginning of 2008, the end of 2008, the end of 2009, the beginning of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 and I have to say it is fascinating to look back on the last few years and see where the year end had brought me.

Tonight I am looking back over 2012 as I sit in my family room listening to my daughter Sarah play the piano. The rest of my family is in the living room watching TV, playing on their iPhones or fiddling with a 3DS. It is a relatively quiet night in the Gonzalez house, and it is a perfect night to reminisce.

There were some things that happened in our family in 2012. They weren’t necessarily earth shattering events, but they have had a definite impact on the landscape of the Gonzalez house and the Gonzalez family in general. Of course, there were many events that took place in 2012 that I could be talking about, but the following seemed to be the most prominent in my mind as I write

  • I got a new job – Starting in the second week of January I went to work for SugarCRM as a software engineer. This could very well be the single most significant job change I have ever made in my life simply because of how much I love the company I work for, the work that I do and the people that I do it with. I have never been so happy in my work as I have been the last year being a “Suga” and I am so looking forward to what 2013 has in store for me personally as well as for my company.
  • We added a new member to our family – In June of this year we brought home Molly, our little shitmaker/noisemaker/smilemaker of a dog. She has been a wonderful addition to our family – as much as I might not like to admit it – simply by the energy and love she brings to our household. She is an amazing playmate for Rico, she is a great little watchdog and she is full of excitement and adoration for everyone in the house. Our home is definitely warmer because of her.
  • We added some boys to our family – Yes, my oldest daughters were officially given the go ahead to call their close male friends “boyfriends”. Both Sarah and Rebekah developed very strong relationships with their significant others and both of these boys have found a place in our family. They are very respectful (and only slightly fearful of me – but it’s a healthy fear) and very courteous to both Sandi and I. They are fun to have around and, most importantly, know how to treat my daughters.
  • We took a trip to Oz – My three youngest kids each starred in two separate performances of The Wizard of Oz over the summer. This is the second summer they have performed in a kids theater production and this year they decided to participate in TWO productions that ran back to back weekends. In one production, AJ stole the show as the Cowardly Lion and in the other show, Adriannah did. All three kids performed their hearts out and had fun doing it, and in turn, I enjoyed working my tail off to make sure they had the summer of their lives in theater.
  • iGot bit by iPhones – Well, the kids did anyway. Adriannah earned enough money for her birthday this year to be able to buy herself her own iPhone, and with the upgrades available, Bekah got her upgraded iPhone as well. In all, we now have four iPhones in our household and as you can imagine, with the propensity for theatrics that this family possesses, it didn’t take long for videos and pictures to start creeping up highlighting just how creative the kids are, even with something as tiny as an iPhone camera. Sarah started her own YouTube channel and Adriannah began recording these amazing videos using an app called Video Star. You will be seeing some of those in the coming months I assure you.
  • I got a new car – I had to. It was time. My Vibe died on me for the last time and, although I did not want to do it, I bit the bullet and decided to pony up for a new ride. So in August I purchased a brand new Mazda3 Touring sedan and I gotta say, I kinda love that car. The gas mileage is insane, the look and feel is very nice and the kids fit in it when I take them to school. As much as I did not want to buy a new car, I am very happy with my car and with Tony Roberts and Dublin Mazda for making that deal one of the best transactions I’ve ever had, let alone for buying a car. If you are in the East Bay Area and are in need of a car and are looking for a smooth transaction, go talk to Tony Roberts at Ken Harvey’s Dublin Mazda. My experience was so good, I actually Yelped them. 🙂
  • Obama won the presidential election – Much like 2008 when Obama won the presidency, there was much talk of politics, policy and government in my house for a number of months leading up to Super Tuesday. As just as I was devastated in 2008 by his victory, so again was I disappointed in the choice our country made for president. However, what’s done is done and though there is still much talk about politics and governments – and just as much snark and whining from both of the major political parties and their followers – I am happy that the election once again brought about discussion within my family. Regardless of your political bent, when parents and children can come together to talk politics and, in some cases even debate politics, it is a good thing. I learned stuff about my kids I didn’t know. I learned some of their political viewpoints are divergent from mine (which I am totally fine with) and in some cases, they are more extreme in their views than I am. I learned that regardless of political viewpoint, friendships must necessarily extend beyond these viewpoints. And I learned that Facebook is a treasure trove of extremists from all walks of life that love to spew their political venom far and wide. Still, if there is nothing else that I will take away from this election, I can say that my kids were once again very informed, very involved and very interested in the election process and the election results.
  • Violence took it’s toll on the United States – While the most prominent incident of the year in the United Stated was the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there were undoubtedly many more killings in the United States. But one thing that the Sandy Hook incident seemed to do above anything else was bring attention to guns. My heart goes out to the kids and teachers that were senselessly gunned down by a disturbed idiot that was hellbent on killing innocent people. Equally, my heart goes out to the thousands of other victims of violence – both gun related and not gun related – because their story should be heard as well. As saddened as I am by the violence in our country, I am now ever vigilant of the safety of my household and my family. Being aware is the first step toward actively protecting a family in my opinion and with that, the knowledge that guns – even assault weapons – do not somehow spontaneously sprout an evil conscience and decide to start killing people. I’ve been appalled at the apparent lack of regard for the second amendment by many highly visible members of our state and federal governments and hope that, like the discussions that took place in our household after Sandy Hook, there will be a long, open discourse on the proper actions to take to curb violence in our country. And I pray to God it doesn’t involve rewriting our constitution to further the police state in which we live. Regardless, my family was brought together by the tragedies that unfolded over the course of the year, and many talks were had to discuss just what is at the root of all of this. So even in the midst of tragedy and evil, my family came together and was strengthened.

There were many other notable events of 2012, including a Mayan Apocalypse that never came to pass, the San Francisco 49ers almost making it to the Super Bowl while I was there to witness it and the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series for the second time in three years. There was a retirement of a space shuttle. There was Felix Baumgartner sky diving from outer space. There was the Grumpy Cat. There was the massive response to FunnyJunk’s and Charles Carreon’s lawsuit against Matthew Inman from the Oatmeal. There was just so much stuff in 2012.

Alas, it is time that I wrap it up, lest I go on and on about all that 2012 brought to the table. But as I leave you with this, my final post for 2012, I would like to reach back to 2009, when Sarah penned this little New Years poem and I’d like to offer up this simple blessing to you and yours: May your 2013 be orders of magnitude more amazing than your 2012 and may you be showered with favor, fortune, blessing and abundance. Happy New Year.

On the day of New Year’s Eve
The world is sitting, waiting
For the day we all believe
Has cause for celebrating.

Staying up till late at night
Watching on TV
Down pole to drop a ball of light
And then we scream, “Yippee!”

Another year is o’er and done
And we are satisfied
Recalling days of mirth and fun
And fear, and hope, and pride.

Another year has started up
A new age will begin
We drink from a newer cup
And cast the old to the wind.

— Sarah Gonzalez, 13

Welcome 2011 and to you, 2010, a not so fond farewell

As I sit down, lazing about toward the end of this, the first day of 2011, I find myself recollecting the happenings of 2010 and thinking of what this fresh new year might bring. I wish I could say, as I recollect, that 2010 was a banner year for my family and I, but the truth is 2010 was riddled with struggle, hardship, challenges and battles. It was really a hard year. And while I know that many people share this sentiment, I am not really one to dwell too long on the negative.

So with that, I’d like to remember a few things that happened this past year that were utterly positive and totally worthy of being remembered fondly:

  • Sandi got a lot better
    After a very long battle with illness and other debilitating health issues, Sandi’s health started to improve dramatically this year. She’ll admit that she’s still not 100% better. But she would also concede that she is doing way better now than she was just a year ago. Thank God for that.
  • I lost a crapload of weight
    In March of 2010 I made a decision to stop being unhealthy and lose some weight. I had no idea what I was in store for, but I knew I couldn’t continue to live my life how I had been. For those of you that were following along, you know that between March and July I lost 60 pounds on the Insanity program. My life was completely transformed because of this. But more important than the weight loss was the lifestyle transformation that took place in me, the most awesome thing being that as of the last day of 2010 I had not gained back a single pound I had lost. Hells yes.
  • My family got bitten by the theater bug
    Sandi, Sarah, Rebekah and Adriannah all auditioned for, and were cast in, Cinderella, a Stage 1 Theatre production. This was the first of what would become a string of performances they would be involved in until the end of the year. It was challenging at times, but it was very liberating for Sandi and the girls so though the nights were long the expenses high and the toll great, over the long haul, it was a win.
  • Sarah started high school, AJ started kindergarten
    As of this year I no longer have babies. This makes me smile. Sarah started high school this year, which is huge for us because it totally exposes how freaking old I really am. Wait, what? Did I really say that? What I meant to say is that it is huge because Sarah is moving into a new phase of her life. And so is AJ, who is now school aged. That means more work for Sandi and I, more work for the older girls and fewer and fewer years until all of the kids are off to college.
  • I got a new job
    In September I had the fortune of running across a Craigslist add that caught my eye. It was a Thursday morning and, without really thinking too much about it, I sent my resume to the email address in the ad at about 11:00 AM. Less than an hour later I was on a phone interview with this company. The next day I was interviewing in person with the VP. After the interview I was tasked with working as a contractor for them on a trial basis so that we could mutually evaluate each other. I fell in love with the work and, as best I can tell, they liked what I did. After my trial was up I was offered a job with them that was too good to refuse and, at the end of October I made one of the bigger life changes I’ve made in a long time.

There were quite a few other things that happened this year that were blessings to me and my family. Many of those things can be gleaned from Sandi’s Facebook, where she has documented pretty well the happenings of our family for the past year or so. Or, if you know me personally, you’ve probably already been bombarded with all of the happenings in my life, both the good and the bad.

Regardless of the state of 2010, it is now entirely behind us and in the past. I’m really not into focusing on the past too much, so as of today, my eyes are set on 2011. I know that with any start to a year, change is bound to occur. However, I know that given the nature of the past few years, 2011 will necessarily have to carry with it severe, positive change if I am to expect to make it out alive or sane. I know things cannot continue the way they are, for the most part, if there is to be any thriving in the Gonzalez house.

So as I begin my journey into this new year, I’m preparing myself for significant change, adventure and excitement. And you know what? I’m way more thrilled about that than I have ever been before.

Happy new year. May your 2011 be the best year of your life and may you gracefully and peacefully release 2010 from your clutches, whether it was good or bad for you.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all. May your 2009 way exceed your 2008 in terms of blessing, abundance, success, achievement and satisfaction. I know 2008 was hard, but 2009 is a clean slate, a fresh canvas, and is just waiting to be lived to its fullest.

Enjoy your year. May you be richly blessed in it.