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What I'm Into In September

September is like the January of the fall… where everything is new again. It carries that wonderful sense of “starting over.” So fun!

I’m joining in with Leigh Kramer’s “What I’m Into” again this month. Here’s what was up in the Q household this September:

Grandparents


My parents spent a week helping us out with the kids while we got adjusted to two working parents again. Isaac met both sets of my grandparents. And we bought our tickets for a visit to our Guatemala abuelos and family this fall. 

So fun to visit and laugh with family that loves us so and doesn’t judge when Ella collapses on the floor of the Olive Garden grumbling, “I take off my shoes. I am angry!”

Prison Break


Okay, this show is not new to us. We’ve gone through all four seasons twice fully and started the series again and again with new friends we try to convert. It’s pretty much amazing.

So you can imagine Billy and I totally freaking out when we realized we were sitting next to Dr. Sara Tancredi one afternoon at lunch. I wish I would have recognized her sooner.

Once I did, I tried to mouth my discovery to Billy. Naturally, he understood nothing and kept saying, “What? What?” Unfortunately, I don’t have a hand signal for “You’re sitting next to an actress from one of our all-time favorite shows!”

New TV


Currently, we’re watching Revolution. It’s got us pretty hooked. A look at life in a post-electronics world. As you might imagine, it involves a lot of agriculture and sword play.

I also have been catching up with The Mindy Project. I fell in love with Mindy Kaling after I read her book. Super witty and oh so funny. She was a writer for The Office, and now this is her own show. 

Oh, and it was the Grey's Anatomy season premiere. Yeah for the fall line-up!

The Treadmill


Maybe to counteract my TV viewing, but definitely to whittle away my baby weight, I signed up for a 5K this December. Now… after the last time… I said “Never again!”

But I’m training this time, and I did darken the doors of the gym a couple early mornings this September.

Independence


Last month, we rocked our USA patriotism. September was for Guatemala. Independence from Spain is celebrated every September 15. We gathered at a local Guatemalan restaurant and enjoyed tostadas, tacos and pepian


What have you been into this month?

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

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When Toddlers Don't Stick to the Plan



Last night, Gabriella requested her “farm book” as a bedtime story. As we meandered our way around ‘ole McDonald’s workplace, I loved listening to her name animals and recreating their sounds.

We shared a video post a while back about our bilingual barnyard. I was amused at Ella’s merging of the two languages. Approaching the sheep’s pen, she told me, “There da sheets. Meh, meh!”

Inwardly I giggled, knowing that’s Billy’s influence. I use “Baa, baa!”

But, I must admit, it’s nice to hear her saying something in Spanish. It’s been a challenge recently, as her verbal skills have exploded, to recognize how much her English is outpacing the Spanish.

I’m not shocked, just a tad disappointed.

Sometimes I like to joke that we're not raising a bilingual kid after all. And I do think there is this inner place of nervousness that things aren't going as I'd planned.

Isn't that the way of parenting?

I didn't give her sugar for the first 18 months of her life. Yet just a couple weeks ago, she tried to convince me to crash a stranger's birthday party when she heard they were having cake in the party room. (Sigh...)

But I know deep down that we are offering her what she needs... vegetables, Spanish and otherwise. And I do trust that it will all work out. And for those times when I overdramatize, Ella surprises me with morsels of encouragement.

“Mama, come sit with me at la mesa (the table).” “Papi and me build a casa (house) outside!”

It's also fun to see her starting to differentiate. Last week, she handed a book to my dad for him to read to her. She quickly assured him, “It not in Spanish.”

So I keep trying to encourage Billy because I know it's challenging to continue with her in Spanish when she is chattering all. of. the. time... always in English.

I'm also eager to see how she continues to develop.

I recently returned to work after maternity leave, and we’re delighted that her caregiver is bilingual and will be speaking to her in Spanish now, too.
And in a couple weeks, we’re heading to Guatemala to visit family and introduce Isaac. I am so super curious to see how she interacts with her grandparents and cousins. She was barely verbal last time we were there, but quickly learned to shout “Come here!" in Spanish to her cousin.

It should be a fun experience altogether now that she’s old enough to observe and discuss her surroundings and to talk to people. I can’t wait!

What parenting journey of yours hasn't gone exactly as planned? How do you keep pushing forward?

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3 Game Changing Apps for International Families

One year ago, I got my very first smartphone. And a couple months ago, Billy got his.

Now he's become the King of Apps.

Best of all, he's found new ways to communicate with family and friends in Guatemala. They provide opportunities for us to stay in engaged in the daily aspects of life. And they're free to boot!

Here are some of our favorites:

Voxer


Billy raved about this for weeks to my skeptical ear. It's basically a walkie talkie that stores messages. You have the option to wait and listen to the message when you have a second and then respond with your own.

I finally got on board when I saw some of my blog friends mention that they use it. (This irked Billy since he'd already been selling it!) Now I can't quit...

LINE


This app allows Billy to make free phone calls and texts to family in Guatemala who have the same app.

It's totally free, which beats even the MagicJack prices we've been paying for international long distance.

Line also allows you to send photos and video via text.

Pinger


Billy's mom doesn't have a smartphone. Pinger allows Billy to text his mom and receive texts from her. So amazing!

Wi-fi isn't always available or reliable across the globe. Still, these apps have made it easier for us to stay in touch with loved ones who have cell phones or smart phones.

Please share your favorite apps for communicating, whether across the ocean or across the street!

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Instructions Not Included


From the moment I heard about this movie, I wanted to see it. The plot seemed cute and entertaining. But my interest was piqued by a film, predominately in Spanish, coming to a theater near me.

It wasn’t promoted as a “foreign film” or “indie” or anything else. Just a new release… that happens to be in Spanish.

So I badgered Billy about going. Date nights are rare for these two parents. Still, he graciously gave me movie pick on our recent night out.

He was also interested because the lead, Eugenio Derbez, is “unquestionably one of Mexico’s best-known actors,” according to IMDB.com.

Billy just kept saying, “He’s so famous. He’s so funny. I mean, he’s the Spanish voice of the donkey in Shrek!” I was embarrassed to say I’d never heard of him.

Instructions Not Included did not disappoint, though it was different than I expected.

Mainly, from Billy’s raving about Derbez, I expected it to be a comedy. It is not. It is a funny movie, but I also cried. I didn’t see that coming.

But the movie was a sweet journey of a man-child becoming a true father and all the growing up that entails. And the little girl was absolutely precious and stole the show.

What I loved about this movie, though, was something different. I couldn’t stop thinking about how the characters didn’t have to be Mexican.

What I mean is that the story was universal. And in this situation, the characters simply happened to be Mexican. However, it wasn’t a movie that swung the other way and pretended the characters weren’t Mexican.

Nope. They had to cross the border. He had to struggle to interact without speaking English. And his daughter often served as his translator.

I loved the weaving of these cultural experiences into a story about family and conquering fear.

Lately, I see immigrant experiences popping up everywhere… in movies that aren’t about immigration. And I love it!

Instructions Not Included was a really fun and endearing movie. A great date night! And hey, we do love movies with subtitles…

Oh, and one of my favorite jokes? Derbez rushes to the ticketing counter at the airport in Mexico. “I’m looking for a girl… American… kinda hippie?” The attendant nods her head, and he turns around.

It’s a line full of white girls wearing floor-length skirts and dreadlocks looking back. I laughed out loud!

What movies have you seen lately that you recommend?

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Why I Ate McDonalds Every Day



Do you ever feel like you are constantly waiting? For the small things… to check out your groceries, to pick up a kid, to reach the weekend. For the big things… a baby, a situation to resolve, to graduate.

I am terrible at waiting. I’ve said it before, but patience is not really in my repertoire.

Sometimes this works in my favor. Other times, though, I wonder how much I miss because I simple cannot wait.

When we were living in Buenos Aires, lunch taught me a lot about waiting. Culturally, it was an event. Stores would sometimes close from 1-4 pm. You know… for lunch.

We would awkwardly arrive at restaurants at 11 am, ready to dine, and were often the first customers. Sometimes establishments weren’t even open yet. This was partly due to the fact that in Buenos Aires dinner may not begin until 10 pm.

Let’s just say, the Quezadas were on a different schedule entirely. Partly because, oh yeah, we were living with our four month old.

So we would arrive at a restaurant, ready to order, ready to eat. But the wait staff had other plans. Servers would never rush a patron. You may need to ask to order. You definitely have to request the check.

But the culture views eating as simply an excuse to socialize for hours. In fact, many restaurants add a small charge to the bill that I can only describe as a “table fee” because you are paying to use the table for several hours.

But as we arrived with a napping infant, I found the process laborious. I would only grow more frustrated when, after having ordered our food, Ella would start stirring before any sustenance had arrived at our table.

Knowing that my new best case scenario would be jiggling a fussy baby while eating one-handed, I would totally miss the experience, instead choosing my frustration.

Naturally, I did what anyone would do. I started eating at McDonald’s nearly every day. I’m not even kidding.

The only thing I can say for myself is that Argentina has great beef (does that statement remind anyone else of While You Were Sleeping?), so even McDonald's was extra amazing. I'll take a McNifica from San Telmo any day! 

I recently won a book online. (Wahoo!) It’s titled “The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing” by Jeff Goins.

This book is all about waiting, and there are moments I feel like Jeff was reading my journal before he penned chapters. It’s been a life-giving narrative.

I’m only four chapters in, but I’ve been encouraged of the value of waiting. I’m reminded what it can teach me and how waiting can shape who I am becoming.

Waiting is just so hard. And I’m not good at it. 

But I find myself, like I so often do, in a season of waiting. Waiting for Isaac to sleep through the night, start eating food, start walking, start talking. Waiting to write a book. (Okay, that one may be more about getting my act together.) And waiting to see how God is working in various circumstances in our lives.

I recommend this book, if you’re interested. Jeff is really a story-teller, so it’s a relatable, encouraging read.

How are you at waiting? Where have you seen God show up in the waiting?

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Tacos and Cake: A Multicultural Heritage

Heritage.

When I hear that word, I immediately think of my children. Partly because much of my time in this life season is dedicated to helping them develop and grow. And also because I am very intentional about their multicultural heritage and identity development.

Quite frankly, I often think of them as having heritage because they’re half Guatemalan. Like many white people, though, I can fall into the trap of thinking of myself as culture-less… heritage-less.

My maternal grandfather has researched our German genealogy. And with a very German maiden name, my paternal line is committed to that story as well.

While completing a school paper in college, I had to interview my paternal grandfather. It was then that I learned just how recently German had been spoken in our family’s home.

However like many families of European decent, unique languages and cultural characteristics soon disappeared into the assimilation of a new “American culture.” Before long, the phrase “melting pot” was used to describe the immigrant experience of these European migrants.

I was in high school before I heard anyone challenge the “melting pot” analogy. She substituted “tossed salad,” explaining a tasty mixture that worked well together but maintained the unique characteristics of each ingredient. I didn’t really know what to think of that, but it stuck in my mind.

But I don’t feel German. And to pursue that cultural history in search of my “heritage” feels false to me. I am white American. I live in an African-American community. I’m married to a Guatemalan and spend a great deal of time in a Spanish, or Latino, context. I’m raising bilingual, Guatemalan-American kids.

So maybe that is the heritage I pass down to my children. A product of the “melting pot,” but a proponent of valuing diversity. I teach them two languages and how to navigate varied, cultural contexts. Eating tacos al pastor and pizza, not to mention saltado, which is our favorite Peruvian dish. Because even though we’re not from Peru, the US has often appropriated food, music, dress and much else from global cultures and blended them together.

Cultural fusion is a part of American heritage.

In planning our wedding, I wanted to include some Guatemalan traditions. Billy maintained that many weddings he’d attended were modeled after American weddings, so he couldn’t think of anything to meet my request.

He did tell me we could have my father break a piñata of rice over our heads at the reception. I felt a tad conflicted when, after begging, I then vetoed his suggestion. However, we had each table share a toast privately in the midst of the festivities, which he said was more akin to how toasts are given in Guatemala.

I had also decided I didn’t want a wedding cake. Instead, I chose several round cakes of different flavors. Basically, I felt tasting all the scrumptious varieties made a reasonable excuse to eat more cake.

But as I stood with my grandmother at our reception, she saw all the cakes and said, “Ah. That’s a German wedding tradition: multiple cakes instead of just the one.”

So my hope for my children is still that they will develop a deeply multicultural heritage. We will continue celebrating Guatemalan Independence Day and incorporating Nochebuena into our Christmas holiday. And we will focus on the best ways America has made space for diversity and enjoy all the different cultures living here.

And perhaps my German heritage will continue to pop up unexpectedly, surprising us with extra cake. And let’s be honest, cake is always welcome at the party as the best kind of surprise.

Do you feel connected to your heritage? What are the best things you hope to pass down to your children?

I'm linking up with SheLoves Magazine for this month on Heritage. Share your own post or read other stories!

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Cane Sugar, Pickup Trucks & Ultrasounds: What Travel Teaches You


The first time I went to Guatemala, it was amazing. Descending towards the airport, I saw lush green out every window. We were soaring past volcanoes (what?!) and peering over nearby communities as we bumped onto ground.

We disembarked, and the signs were all in Spanish. I had my fresh, new passport out, ready for its very first stamp. I practiced my paltry language skills on the customs agents.

All of it was so exciting… ordering Cokes with real cane sugar at the tiendas, riding death-defying buses and practicing my Spanish everywhere I went.

We rode in the backs of pick up trucks to visit natural hot springs. My host family introduced me to pouring warm milk on corn flakes, which I thought was ingenious on a cold morning. We hiked the Mayan ruins and saw sweeping views of the jungle.

It was so fun. Until, you know, it wasn’t.

Food always seems to be the first thing. In Argentina, I became obsessed with memories of Tex Mex chips and salsa… of hummus and pita chips. I couldn’t wait to come home and go grocery shopping!

But language is a close second. After a while, my brain became exhausted of thinking all the time. And I wanted to stop simply smiling and nodding. I wanted to be able to make a joke once in a while! (Or at least laugh on time with the jokes other people were making…)

And life in general can just become tiring. Throwing TP in a trash quickly loses its novelty and “miming” to your host family that you threw up on the balcony because you don’t know the verb for “to vomit” is just plain uncomfortable. Finding a pediatrician or having an ultrasound with my husband translating made me feel so childlike and incapable.

Real life abroad can wear on you.

Maybe you’ve also had this experience. Cross-cultural living can be super thrilling and full of great stories… until it becomes tiring.

These travel experiences have the beautiful capacity to make us excellent hosts in our home country.
We should be carrying the banner of unending grace for immigrants in our communities.

They are likely not here for a season, but are learning a new life in a new country. And often, where we may have experienced generous hospitality and gracious welcome in the destination we visited, they are experiencing discrimination, hostility and impatience.

Let travel spur you to welcome immigrants. Do the work of understanding any limited English speakers you encounter and be sure to encourage their efforts in any way you can. Invite people into your home. Ask about foods missed, and if you are aware of authentic restaurants, let them know! Share ideas of places to see or visit in your community.

Being in a new place in a delicate mixture of adventure and uncertainty. We have a beautiful opportunity to be rock star hosts.

How have you have appreciated hospitality abroad? What ways have you found to be a good host at home?

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August: Brought to You by the Letter "P"

Every now and then on blogs I read, I stumble upon these monthly “What I’m Into” posts. I have discovered some fun, new things via Alyssa, Grace and Abby. So this month I decided to join in!

Typically, I join trends way after they’re cool, so it’s unlikely you’ll discover the hottest, latest awesomeness here. Still, that’s where I sneak up from behind and surprise you with randomness. 

So here’s what I was into in August. Mysteriously, they all start with the letter “P,” so I just went with it.

Parties


Pool and Pizza – A friend initiated a simple email. “Let’s meet at the Y on Friday after school. Bring some cash.” 

The timing was awesome since working parents could join, we avoided being home during “meltdown hour” and I could rub some shampoo in Ella’s hair in the pool showers before putting on her pj’s for the ride home. Add good ‘old $5 Hot ‘N Ready pizzas from Little Ceasar’s and these were some fantastic summer evenings with friends. 

Easier than any party you could plan. I recommend making this happen before fall, if you haven’t already.


Patriotism – We celebrated Billy’s citizenship this month with an awesome Americana party. So grateful to the Dollar Tree for décor. And Pinterest hooked me up with this gem, which led to my next August pleasure….

Pretzels (covered in yogurt) – Let’s just say I accidentally overbought these for our party. And then I proceeded to eat them… all. Yum!

Media


Psych My sister introduced me to this show. It took me a minute to get on board, but thanks to Netflix, you just keep watching until you’re hooked. Now I know I’ve watched too much because Shawn and Gus are my comrades in my dreams these days.

Perry – This song by Katy Perry is my summer jam. I love it. Perfect to crank up in the car and sing loudly. Every lady needs a good “woman power” song.



Parenting Anthem – I’ve also been into this song this summer as I’ve spent a lot of time with my kids. Love them like crazy… and sometimes I feel I’m going to go crazy.



FAMILY


Passports – Now that Billy is a citizen and Isaac is outside the womb, it was time to get our passports. The first baby photo op was a bust because the boy simply refused to wake up. But the second time produced these awesomeness…


Potty Training – I have never talked about the bathroom as much as I have in the month of August. Ella and I discuss it on the regular… and then I talk about it with my mom friends because this is no joke, y’all.

One day we will get there. I mean, I assume that’s the case. I tend to overreact and imagine doomsday scenarios where my child gives up before reaching basic milestones. So far I’ve always been proven foolish.

So there you have it. The Month of August. What were your favorite things this summer?
What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh

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Foreign Women Are Wild



I’ve always had superb taste in music. So excellent, in fact, that the masses agree with me, and my jams seems to always be in the Top 40. Go figure!

So I was car dancing to the radio when I heard the new song, “American Girl,” by Bonnie Mckee. It’s the first single from her first album, releasing this year.

Check out some of the lyrics below. I didn’t include them all because that’s too much to read. And I was going to put the video… but, no.

I told him I got a plan and I'm gonna dominate
And I don't need any man to be getting in my way
But if you talk with your hands then we can negotiate (whoa oh oh oh)
I just keep moving my body (yeah)
I'm always ready to party (yeah)
No I don't listen to mommy (yeah)
And I'll never say that I'm sorry

Chorus

Oh I'm an American girl
Hot blooded and I'm ready to go I'm loving taking over the world
Hot blooded, all American girl (Whoa) I was raised by a television
Every day is a competition Put the key in my ignition (Oh-way-oh)

There’s some other stuff… you know, like buying a new heart out of a vending machine. And lots of repetition of the phrase “Oh baby gonna go all night.”

So here’s the thing. Billy told me how American girls had the perception of being stinky… that was awkward. But then one day, he mentioned that we also have a reputation for being promiscuous party girls.

What?! I was appalled. The smelly thing suddenly felt like a compliment.

Most of the travelers I know wouldn’t readily be identified as “wild women,” so I was a bit baffled. But, of course, perceptions aren’t just made by the Americans that people meet.

Hollywood ain’t doing us no favors globally, ladies. Movies and music videos and songs and awards shows paint the same picture of the American girl in Bonnie Mckee’s song.

So Billy reveals this little perception problem to me. And I thought to myself, “Funny. I think I’ve heard the same comments made about Latina women by Americans.”

In fact, while channel surfing past a Spanish game show with a scantily clad female hostess, I heard a comment about how Latin culture is more sexualized than American culture. It’s common for women to dress in the provocative manner of this TV personality.

I was younger in my understanding of race and culture then, and I had not yet traveled to Latin America. Still, something in me said… that doesn’t seem right.

Because here’s the thing… I don’t want Miley Cyrus representing me around the world. Oh my… lee. (See what I did there?)

So I think some contextualization should be acknowledged to entertainment television seen ‘round the world.

I can’t help but consider the intersection of gender and culture in these assumptions on “American girls” and Latinas (and probably other nationalities as well). There are already so many issues in society of objectifying women and analyzing their sexuality. Add the fact that they are culturally “other,” and people everywhere do what humans do… make assumptions and form broad stereotypes.

Suddenly, we see an entire country of women as the sum of the clothes (or lack thereof), dance moves and movie roles of a few celebrities.

What I wish we could say rather than “Women in that country are over-sexualized” is “Look. Media around the world uses sex to sell. How uncreative!” But I think I might be singing solo on my bizarre bandwagon for a little while still.

So here’s to you, awesome sisters of the world! Women who aren’t twerking at parties, but are chasing giggling nieces and nephews. Women who “listen to mommy” and learn from the wise matriarchs who’ve gone before them. Women who are not out front, representing us on TV, but who serve and lead and love deeply every day… all around the world. 

I'm proud to know you.
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