The Superlatives {September 2014}

September 29, 2014


Hello Fall! September has ushered in the gleeful Facebook status updates and photos of lattes as the seasons start to change. Some would say it's the most wonderful time of the year. Wait... I think that's already taken. Anyway, here are a few of the stand-outs in my world for September.

FAVORITE KIDS BOOKS

I've searched for bilingual Bible story books over the years, but never found anything that quite worked for me. Dunt... dunt... dunt... Until now. Zonderkidz Bilingual I Can Read! books. Simply fantastic.

We picked up Daniel and the Lions and Jonah and the Big Fish. Short, easy-to-read stories in English and Spanish. Bold illustrations with characters that have some skin pigmentation. I have a feeling more of this series will be in our house before this child-rearing thing is over.

FAVORITE GROWN-UP BOOK

This month I started reading All Joy and No Fun. It's a book about parenting... and how it affects parents. Ha! I like the style of the book, which incorporates interviews, and I'm appreciating some of the words that articulate my own experience better than I could have.

I also read The Invention of Wings this month, which is an intriguing premis about a young girl who is "gifted a slave" on her 11th birthday. It follows the intertwining life journeys of these two young women.

The novel is inspired by a true story, and two fascinating sisters in history that I'd never heard of (but should have).

FAVORITE SHORTS

Billy mocks me on the regular because I still have clothes I wore in high school. It's weird because I'm not exactly the same size I was in high school. But they seem to have stretched out to accommodate. (Clothes that know what's good for them do that, you know.)

Never is this more apparent than in my athletic wardrobe. I still have a bunch of old basketball shorts I bought when I worked at Goody's Family Clothing one summer. I know other adult women seem to love spandex capris. I have a pair, but they are not awesome. And it seems some basketball shorts for adults end about mid-calf, which wasn't really working for me other.

So I bought new shorts. Ta da! I don't normally go on and on about shorts, but sometimes in the world of Amazon, I like someone to point me in the right direction.

In my opinion, these are just a great length - longer than finger tip, but not at my knee. Also, I must admit, it's been game-changing having shorts with functional elastic!

FAVORITE PUPPET SHOW


Thanks to Goldstar, we scored some cheap-o tickets to Shake A Tale Feather with Mother Goose at the Center for Puppetry Arts. If you live in or visit Atlanta with kids, this museum is a place you must check out.

They have on-going exhibits and are currently building the world's largest Jim Henson exhibit (as one very enthusiastic employee informed us). This was our first show, and it provided sweet one-on-one time with my girl that included songs, puppet making, and storytelling.

FAVORITE GROWN UP PLAY

I already wrote about this, but One Drop of Love is a terrific, one-woman show on race, heritage, and identity. Keep an eye out in your city as I have a feeling writer/performer Fanshen will be adding more shows as word of her play grows.

FAVORITE DANCER


Naturally, I'm biased. But this girl started dance at Moving in the Spirit this month. The uniform of black leotard and black pants is a little more tame than her typical tights/tutu/wings/cowgirl boots inspired get-ups. But she's having a ball. This is our first "extracurricular activity" so it's pretty fun. I'm a dance mom!

FAVORITE MOVIE

Billy and I saw Maze Runner this month. It falls smack in the middle of one of our favorite genres: young adults caught in a post-apocalyptic world being forced to do crazy things and trying to figure out what exactly is going on and how to stop it! It was no Hunger Games or Divergent, but I am interested to read the books.

FAVORITE TV

This month has been a dueling marathon. We are still finishing Heroes, which languished for a spell, but is now engaging and suspenseful once again. And Billy accused me of Netflix cheating (great article!) on him. So there's that happening.

Also, Billy got me hooked on The Blacklist. So basically our house is full of characters that we never know if they are the good guys or bad guys.

And how could I not mention... The Mindy Project is back on! Tuesday nights, people. It's about the only show I still watch when it comes on TV. The reception was terrible at first and when Billy started adjusting the antennae, I was totally confused. I didn't think we used those things anymore!

FAVORITE COMMENT

I got my first pseudo-harsh comments on the blog this month when I wrote this post. Writing about immigration, I knew it was only a matter of time. And hey, it was nicer than when a stranger on Facebook called me a lowlife last year. But still...

Then, I was searching for a toaster on Amazon. There's so many choices that I was overwhelmed and decided to read a few reviews to help me out. When I came across this one, I could. not. stop laughing. It made me realize that in the world of the Internet, any topic has the potential to go off the rails.


FAVORITE READS AROUND THE INTERNET

Laugh Out Loud: All the Comments on Every Recipe Blog

Clever: Real Amas de Casa de Soyapango (y otros programas que quiero ver)

Long-awaited explanation: Why the U.S. Chills Its Eggs and Most of the World Doesn't

Convicting: Why It Doesn't Matter How You Feel About Your Friends

Educational: 5 Famous Latinos: Role Models for Hispanic Heritage Month

Important: My Grandpa was 'Unaccompanied Minor' to the U.S. - in 1907

Inspiring: Down We Go: A Dangerous Way to Live

What were you into this month?

Carrying A Baby in Saudi Arabia

September 26, 2014


A few weeks ago, I announced a guest post series, telling stories of the places we've visited. I'm delighted to share this first post from my friend Krista. Her husband and I were Mission Year teammates many moons ago, and the world of blogging has connected us across the country. I hope you enjoy her post and check out her blog


When I went to Saudi Arabia, I never expected to be treated differently because I had a child. 

I had never been out of North America when I had the chance, in 2009, to visit the country my husband grew up in. My oldest son was just shy of 2 at the time, very verbal, but still in diapers (yes, this is relevant to the story!).

We stayed in the expat compound with American friends and only went out a few times into the “real” Saudi Arabia.

As a woman in that culture I expected to feel less than, perhaps not even be talked to, and in the more public areas like a bookstore it was that way a little bit.

There are segregated areas for families versus men. Those are the white signs you see in the photo.
But the thing that surprised me the most was how accommodating they were to me when I had my son with me. They love children and by default showed extra care to me.

It started when we arrived at the airport after something like 24 hours of travel and there was no place to change a child in the bathroom. The women thought I needed to use the restroom and let me go to the head of the line even though there were about 20 of them there. When I quickly backed out of the stall, I realized that I would have to make do with a wire shelf! (I don’t know what mothers do there on a regular basis, I never came across a changing table the entire time I was there.)

After we stood in line for 3 hours to get through immigration services we went to pick up our bags for customs. When they saw I was carrying my son on my back they wouldn’t let me pick up any suitcases, one man had me sit on a bench while they processed it, and then helped me on the other end.

Towards the end of our trip we went out to lunch with some of my FIL’s former coworkers. After lunch we went back to their house to visit. Unfortunately both my son and I had picked up some infections and I was out of diapers for him for the outing. One of the men very kindly offered to go to the corner store and buy us more. However, it was a good opportunity for me to ask for a ride back to the house because I wasn’t feeling well either. He took us in his son’s fancy yellow sports car because my son was very enamored with the cool yellow car.


I know this man was a friend to my husband’s family, but there was nothing different about the way he treated us than I would expect in any other country.

All the news stories you hear, some of them are true. However, take the time to be in the culture and get to know a few people and I think you will find that they are just as nice as anyone else you could meet.

It sure messed with my preconceived notions!

Krista has been blogging since well before 2009 at Welcome to Married Life and you can find the entire series about her trip here if you want to learn more about experiences in Saudi Arabia. She now has 4 children and keeps plenty busy chasing them around as well as taking pictures and blogging about life on the side!


Interested in sharing your own travel post? I'm accepting submissions to be published in November. You can learn more and register here.

Race, Violence, and the Airport Immigration Agent

September 23, 2014

Image Source: dcgreer
“Where are you coming from?”

I answered, “Guatemala.”

“How long were you there?” The immigration agent flipped through my passport, searching for my recent stamp.

“Six days." 

“Reason for your visit?” 

“Visiting family.” 

“You got family in Guatemala?”

“Yes. My in-laws.”

He eyed my husband standing next to me. “You’re Guatemalan?”

“Yes, sir,” Billy replied, holding forward his Guatemalan passport.

The agent did not take it. He looked back at me and quietly scoffed before asking, “And where’d you get... this?”

Assuming… he meant Billy?… I nervously answered, “Um.. we met at church?” 

He didn’t respond, stamped my passport, and uttered the obligatory, “Welcome home.” Then, he turned to Billy and quietly scanned his documents before stamping and passing them back.

I’m not sure I can describe how violated and angry I felt after that experience. Billy had made a habit of prepping me each and every time we were about to encounter immigration agents. Still, I usually brushed aside his warnings because I am used to being given the benefit of the doubt. I am used to engaging people as equals. I am not used to feeling powerless, disrespected, and humiliated. 

There have been countless other times in our marriage that the most baffling or outrageous things will happen to Billy. We analyze and rant before timidly asking, “Is this because I’m/you’re Latino?”

True. Billy’s white skin may dismiss some outright racist encounters, but his accent often gives him away. For those who are ignorant, frustrated, confused, or downright hateful about race, Billy can still be a target.

When I think about race and violence, this somewhat minor incident with an immigration agent comes to mind. Because these types of all-too-common experiences start to wear on a person. Honestly, when I hear about racial tension or flashes of violence, I understand it. 

The violence doesn’t begin with a fist or a gun or whatever. It begins with a thousand tiny comments, glances, and giggles - microaggressions - that erode the brotherhood. 

Soon after Ferguson, the poll taking began. It wasn’t long before stats were floating through Facebook that white people thought we should talk less about race. I sighed.

I realize how much it is a privilege to “not talk about race.” Race, ethnicity, and the meanings they hold in our society affect our family on a regular, dare I say, daily basis. 

It is important that conversations happen. I know we don’t all love these talks because they might make us uncomfortable, ashamed, heartbroken, or confused. Okay. We must still have them.

My hope is that one day racial tension and violence do not exist. I know that won’t happen by ignoring real experiences or silencing people’s voices. I’d rather stay in the conversation because I do believe in God’s redemptive power.

I'm linking up with the September 2014 Synchroblog: Race, Violence, and Why We Need To Talk About It. Check out other participating links:

Jeremy Myers -  It’s the White Man’s Fault! It’s the Black Man’s Fault!
Wendy McCaig -  Race, Violence, and a Silent White America 
Glenn Hager -  Can We Even Talk About Racial Issues?
Carol Kunihom -  Who is Allowed to Vote? 
Wesley Rotoll -  Race, Violence, and Why We Need to Talk About It 
Kathy Escobar - We Have a Dream
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