Saturday, August 30, 2008

Reconnecting - Part 1

I haven't talked to my long-term best friend Giovanni in quite a while - almost a year ago (link to previous post). Catching up with him recently reminded me of how valuable his friendship is though. He's one of the few people that I feel completely comfortable talking to about anything, and no matter how long it's been since we've last talked, it's still just like yesterday.

The last I'd heard was that he'd moved from L.A. back to Florida. But after talking to him on the phone for probably an hour and a half, I learned that he has since moved to Hawaii, then back to L.A., and now resides in San Luis Obispo. The next step with reconnecting is that I really want to/must drive the 5 hours South to see him soon.

My more local friendship with Brian is similar to Giovanni's in depth, except that I haven't known him as long (or through so many stages of life), and also that he only lives three houses down and around the corner from me.

But oddly enough we're both so busy taking care of our own crazy lives that we rarely get to talk. Granted, it was certainly less than the year ago that it was with Giovanni, but last Monday night we finally had the opportunity to sit and reconnect.

If I could define the difference for me between what makes someone a great friend and another a best friend (and it's true with both Giovanni and Brian), it is this:

A best friend is someone not only with whom you feel completely eager and comfortable sharing the details of each other's lives, but also with whom you feel comfortable enough to sit down together and pray about them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

All Rolled Into One

I was watching a recent episode of a show called Inside MMA, when one of the hosts (and also a Mixed Martial Arts legend) Bas Rutten made a simple but brilliant observation about the Olympic combat sports.

He said (paraphrased) "People call MMA too violent. But if you take all of the Olympic combat sports and combine them - the punching of Boxing, the throws and submissions of Judo, the kicks of TaeKwonDo, and the take downs and ground game of Wrestling - then there you have it - MMA!".

That explains it so simply that it's ridiculous, because how many people object to the Olympic combat sports? Now all you have to do is take one more small step forward and combine them all together. And like Bas said, "there you have it"!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Eight Years Ago Today...

...Amanda and I committed our lives to each other.

I knew I was marrying my best friend, but as time passes I realize more and more how important that fact really is.

The first realization occurred after we moved across the country, 3000 miles away from our roots. With no friends or family nearby, we only had each other for company. But if I had to pick just one person in the entire world to hang out with - she is by far my favorite.

The second realization is now that we have kids. Our young'uns go to bed at 8pm, after which either we can arrange for a babysitter to go out, or we have to stay at home for the rest of the evening. We choose the babysitter option once every month or two, but for every other night of the year, we're stuck at home. And Amanda is the one person that I am the happiest to be stuck with.

Now that we've been in our new home (Northern California) for four years, we have slowly established friends again. But since most of our friends have kids too, spending time with them either has to happen when the kids are awake, or a babysitter has to be arranged for. Therefore the available time to spend with our friends is severely limited too. So we have to rely on each other for entertainment, companionship, and friendship even more.

I have no doubt that Amanda is more compatible for me than anyone else in the world. And as the icing on the cake, she's really easy on the eyes too!

I thank God for being the ultimate matchmaker and leading us to each other. And for eight years of marriage together so far.

NOTE: If you want to see more pictures from our wedding day, then click here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's With the New Blog Title?

The meaning of my new blog title is the result of a recent realization.
  1. I am not exceptional at anything, that I can think of anyway.
  2. Almost everything about me however, is above average, by an average amount. In other words, I probably fall right in the middle of just average and excellent.
This is applicable to things that I have had no say in whatsoever - what God has chosen to bless me with - such as my height, health, looks, intellect, relationship with God, etc. And things that I have worked at improving upon, such as education, occupational skills, fitness, spiritual growth, etc.

The one thing that I can say about me that is as excellent as I could possibly imagine it is my family - both growing up (parents, siblings, etc), and to an even greater degree presently (my wife and children).

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Conquered Quest

Amanda and I were on a date recently (a month or 2 ago?) in my 300Z. We were parking the car at a store when a song came on the radio. We both liked it from the onset, so we turned it up and sat there grooving to it in the parking lot until it was finished.

When we got home, I looked for the song by searching for what lyrics I could remember (which has worked for me many times before), but with no luck. Since then I have been hoping that it would come on the radio again so I could get the title, artist, or at least more lyrics so I could buy the mp3 from Amazon. But it's been absent from the airwaves, at least when I've been listening - until Tuesday night.

I was working on our car in the garage when the song came on the radio. I promptly ran upstairs, checked the radio station's website, and viola! Since buying this song I must have listened to it about 100 times. It just hasn't gotten old.

The lyrics are very cryptic and catchy, although depressing ("into the ocean, end it all"), but it's one of those tunes that just resonates with me musically. It sounds very similar vocally and stylistically to Peter Gabriel, with a good variety of sounds and instruments, interesting percussion, and great underlying bass.

The song is Into the Ocean, by Blue October.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Acting on Acrobatic Ambitions

Amanda worked at our church this last Friday morning, as usual. And since it was an off-Friday for me (due to the 9/80 work week), I got to take care of this kids while she was gone.

When I was playing Lego with them, Lucas stacked three of the little Lego men on top of each other. I said they resembled acrobats, then attempted to explain to him what that meant. As I mentioned on my last blog (Kids, Meet Multimedia), I decided to show them videos of acrobats, so they could understand it better. After a brief search, I found and played a few videos for them. When they were done, Lucas said "let's play acrobats".

So we headed to our bonus room (the "game room"), and tumbled to our hearts' content. Lucas did somersaults, then repeatedly jumped off of the arm of a chair and rolled when he landed. I helped Emily jump off of the Futon (holding onto her hands), then attempted to perform my limited repertoire of maneuvers - mainly a front hand spring, a handstand, a diving roll, and an attempted one-armed stand, all with limited success. Then I laid on my back and when Lucas stood on my stomach, I lifted him up by his ankles, with him still in a standing position. He was a little scared, but laughing at the same time. Then I tried it with Emily, but she kept sitting down.

It was great just to goof around, act silly together, and get some exercise at the same time.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Kids, Meet Multimedia

Maybe it's still too early to introduce Lucas to video games, but there was a really good deal for one on Slickdeals that I couldn't resist, called BUZZ Jr.! Jungle Party. It was bundled with four kid-friendly controllers for $20 (including shipping).

With a little bit of explaining, the game play is simple enough for him to understand it. We've played it several times, including once with him, Amanda, myself, and Jeanette too (our roommate).

And I was finally able to find an excuse to brush the dust off of my old PlayStation 2.


Since putting together the slide video together for the anniversary of my dad's death, Lucas has requested to watch it almost every day.

There are many pictures of my dad when he was a kid and also of myself and my siblings when we were young (with my dad of course). He just loves to see them, ask questions, and hear about the people and stories associated with them (Emily enjoys it too, but doesn't get quite as much out of it yet).

It's both heartwarming and heartbreaking for me to teach them about the grandpa they'll never personally meet or know. It's also bittersweet showing them pictures and telling them stories of my siblings and me together, since they get to see them so infrequently.

You can see the video here, if interested.


Speaking of the computer, I have found the internet to be a really handy resource when explaining some things to Lucas. After verbally describing something like snowmobiles, ATVs, or wrecking balls, showing him a video on YouTube or Metacafe can provide a whole new level of understanding and enlightenment for him.


While Amanda occasionally takes the kids to a Family Movie Matinee, I watched a movie with them in a theater for the first time on my birthday last month. We went to see Wall-e, and all of us thoroughly enjoyed it.

I did learn one lesson from the experience though - although some sodas don't contain caffeine, the sugar content is still plenty adequate to over-energize a 21 month old, even when she's dead tired.
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