QUOTE

March Fun



March was such a good time with its hints of spring. It gave me hope winter will soon end. It was a month of dreaming and scheming and lots of fun.

I’ll start with movies.

Okay, Divergent. I binge read the dystopia trilogy in like one week. You may remember it was near MLK Day. And I’d been eagerly anticipating the movie release.

Now, I’m a pretty easy sell, but I was not disappointed. There was only one change from the book I found really puzzling, but overall it was everything I’d hoped and dreamed. You should definitely join the divergent!

On the documentary front, we stumbled up this trailer for The Second Cooler.

 

Has anyone seen this film? I want to, but it’s currently not showing in Atlanta. So I’m working on organizing a local viewing. ATL folks, let me know if you’re interested, and I’ll keep you posted!

We also watched a couple Spanglish-y movies. GOAL, which was okay-ish. (How’s that for a rave review?) And Pulling Strings, which I did enjoy and wrote about here.

GOAL was only a fraction of our soccer-related consumption this month. Billy was beyond hyped about “El Classico” between Barcelona and Real Madrid. It also served as a great practice game for my friend Katie and me as we prepare to launch World Cup Wives for this summer’s tournament.

Lest you think I was a total couch potato in March, let’s acknowledge that I got into a bit more steady exercise routine. People aren’t lying when they say it makes you feel better. I concur.

I stopped blogging about being the only white girl in my aerobics class and continued going. I’m starting to get that crazy V-step!

Also, y’all, I joined a women’s basketball league. It has pretty much changed my life already. If you don’t know, I have about a decade of professional basketball experience from the ages of 8-18. Also… I have not been 18 for quite some time.

Two quotes will explain why this was the perfect league for me:

“Don’t worry. All the serious players have left and gone to other leagues.”

And when one of our teammates was enthusiastically encouraing us to get back on the fast breaks because they are not getting down the court, someone responded, “Um… we aren’t either… because we’re old.” Ha! I was right at home.

With springy-er weather, we made a couple visits to the zoo, where Ella’s only request was to see the frogs. (Really? At the zoo??) When we asked why, all she could offer was, “Because they’re so sweet.” Oh my.

I’ll give her that, though, because at least she wasn’t all about these bad boys:

http://instagram.com/p/l70iDMHW2c/

(Also, I figured out how to use my Instagram app this March. You can see more amazing photographic experiences like this one here.)

Finally, several of you emailed me this month, telling me your stories. I absolutely love hearing from you who read the blog. It’s so encouraging to know our exploits in family and life have connected with you, and I get so much joy hearing about your relationships, your travels and where this multicultural life has taken you. So super fun!

Surprise Toddler Conversations About Race

“I want ponytails!” Gabriella told me one morning. I gathered her “fine as frog’s hair” locks into pigtails.

She looked in the mirror. “NOOOOO!” she cried out in typical three-year old overreaction. “I want a LOTTA ponytails!” She paused, then offered by way of explanation, “Like Lola at the library.”


I have often thought about what it will be like to discuss race with my kids. I expect living in diverse environments will create opportunities for these conversations.

Even several months back, the topic emerged while we were making my culinary specialty (read: "ordering pizza at Papa John’s"). She pointed directly at the cashier and announced, “He’s brown.”

Now I know that this comment holds no racial meaning, and I don’t want to talk about race when my child is not. She was discovering colors. We were always asking her name the color of everything in our path… why not people? She currently has little to no framework for understanding race.

Still, I feel pretty strongly that I do not want to brush conversations about race under the rug. And even though it makes me incredibly uncomfortable, especially when we were the only non-black people at the Papa Johns, I don’t want to shush her in public.

I don’t want to convey to her that we don’t talk about the color of people’s skins or that we don’t talk about it in the presence of people different than us or that it’s polite to pretend like we don’t notice.

So at Papa John’s I responded, “Yes. And what color is the phone?” The man ringing us up kept his head down and pretended not to hear. Since subtly is not in Ella’s repertoire, I imagine he very much did hear.

Looking back, I wish I maybe hadn’t treated skin color like it’s the same as objects having different colors. But I didn’t really know what to do. In a lot of ways, all that was going through my mind was not to shame her for talking about skin color and to try not to make those around me uncomfortable.

In regards to Lola, I simply told her one truth. “Lola has different hair than you.” I suppose I could’ve put her hair in a lot of ponytails. It still wouldn’t have looked like Lola’s and she may have gotten funny looks at preschool. Maybe that’s part of the process. I’m not really sure.

I’m certain these conversations will continue to happen. I thought I’d include a couple links of sites I’ve been checking out. There’s also a lot of great book recommendations, which I may pursue to encourage some of these conversations at home. 




Please feel free to share any links or resources you’ve found helpful on this topic. I’d love to check them out!

Post-Winter Delight

This is basically my life mantra:

http://skreened.com/glamfoxx/i-don-t-do-winter?gclid=COiSk_SLrr0CFchZ7AodXmwA1Q

I’m a terrible winter-experiencer. I moan. I get quiet. I refuse to wear a coat. I complain about being cold.

Every year I’m both ecstatic and embarrassed by how much my demeanor changes with the first trickle of warm sunlight. It’s like I’ve been re-born.

This year has been no different. But I almost don’t even know how to process it because I’m just feeling so happy. The sun has come out! Yay! It was a rough winter… you know, Polar Vortex-y and all, so the celebration feels even more joyful.

And maybe that’s the takeaway that resonates with me in this season. The harder the struggle, the more joyous the celebration.

Jesus talked about this concept in Luke 7: "I tell you, her sins--and they are many--have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love." (v 47).

Sometimes I worry that I fall on the “few sins, little love” side. You know, I come from a subculture that praises the mega-transformation testimonies. Leaving those of us with the “I asked Jesus in my heart at age 3” stories feeling confused… inadequate, maybe? I don’t want to love only a little bit.

And maybe that’s one thing that is both painful and joyful for me about winter. Whether literal or metaphorical, the winter season brings out my worst. I’m reminded of my darkness, of my sin.  

With the blossoming of the trees, I’m reminded of my good God. I’m reminded of my God who comes to redeem, to transform, and to bring full life. And it makes me so happy.

Where are you seeing God bring forth new life in your community or in your life this season?

I'm linking up with the March 2014 Synchroblog: New Life. Here's the full list of posts:


Michael Donahoe – New Life
K.W. Leslie – Sin Kills; God Brings New Life
Carol Kuniholm – New Life. Mystery Fruit.
Jeremy Myers – I Get Depressed On Facebook
Glenn Hager – A Personal Resurrection Story
Loveday Anyim – Spring Forth – Ideas That Speak New Life
Loveday Anyim – Inspired By Spring To Create A New Life
Sarah Quezada – Post Winter Delight
Edwin Aldrich – Finding New Life In Our New Home
Doreen A. Mannion – Each Day A New Decision: Choose Life
Kathy Escobar – new life through nonviolent communication

The Euphoria Begins {#WorldCupWives}

Soccer mania is in full swing at our house. And the eye-rolling has begun… for both me and Billy. Let me explain.

Yesterday was “El Clasico,” the big game between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Two powerhouse league teams from Spain, each home to a superstar player shouldering big expectations for the 2014 World Cup.

At our house, this was happening:


Sarah’s eye-roll tally: 1.

But hey, I’m all about hype. So I can get into the World Cup.

In fact, I was doing a little reading about the upcoming games and the players. Remember those two “superstars.” Lionel Messi plays for the Argentina national team and Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal.

When I came across this player comparison, I held it up for Billy to see. “I mean, c’mon,” I told him. “You’re a guy, but even you can tell that Ronaldo is cuter.”


Billy’s eye-roll tally: 1.

Suffice it to say, I think we are going to have a fun time watching the World Cup this year.

In fact, it seems like we’ve already started. The bracket is posted on the fridge. And Billy literally said to me the other day, “The euphoria begins in May.” And I happen to know the first game is not until June 12. That’s some euphoria with stamina…

So I’m excited to announce a little project my friend Katie and I have been concocting. She and I will be hosting World Cup Wives this summer (and depending on the euphoria… maybe a little bit this spring).

We’ll be bringing you video commentary of the World Cup, discussing the games and players the way we’ve always wanted to and the way our husbands simply won’t allow: What’s his relationship like with his mom? Why on earth did they choose that font for the uniforms? Did you know he was on his high school gymnastics team before he discovered soccer? (I’m looking at you, Landon Donovan!)

We know we’re not alone, and we're hoping to get a lot of ladies on board. We will need help keeping track of the eye-roll tally! Here’s how you can keep up with the fun:

First, follow Katie and me on Twitter (@katharinedelp and @SarahQuezada). We’ll be hash tagging it up with #WorldCupWives. And I also expect to make liberal use of #eyeroll. Join us in tweeting your soccer exploits!

Second, share the World Cup Wives with your soccer-spouse-loving friends, won’t you? The more the merrier!  

Finally, I also encourage you to join us. Click the button below. I’m getting excited just thinking about it…

6 Reasons To Travel With Very Young Kids


When Ella was about two and a half months old, Billy moved to Buenos Aires. She and I hung around stateside for three more weeks before we jumped on a 10-hour overnight flight to join him. We lived there for four months.

People thought we were crazy. Perhaps they were right.

I won’t pretend like it was the easiest thing we’ve ever done, but I will say I’d do it the same way if we had it to do all over again.

My guess is if you read this blog, you enjoy travel and exploring new places. Maybe you have a young kiddo or more and are thinking about traveling together. Here are my six reasons to go for it:

Little Extra Cost


While they’re itty bitty, it’s pretty inexpensive to travel. Domestically, flights are free for kids under two. Internationally, you pay about 10% of the full ticket price. (Older kids can also get discounted tickets for their own seat, which is why a lot of search sites will ask child ages.)

While in Buenos Aires, we decided to head to the Brazilian border to visit Iguazu. Ella was free on the flight, no cost at the hotel, and had free entrance to the park. No real extra expense.

 

Lesson In Simplicity 

We don’t have a changing table in our house any more. Few restrooms in Argentina had changing tables, and we learned to change Ella on our laps, sink counters, and pretty much wherever.

We also quickly noticed that almost no one in Buenos Aires used strollers. Some of this could have been due to the astronomical prices these cost. But even though we brought ours from home, it proved to be a hassle in this crowded city.

We were always taking up way too much room on the subway. And few stations had elevators, so Billy and I became experts at hauling all our gear up and down giant flights of stairs. We ended up baby-wearing a lot due to simplicity. My one regret is that I didn’t yet own my Ergobaby carrier, which is soooo much easier on our backs and would’ve been a game changer.

Affordable Childcare


This wasn’t the case in Argentina since cost of living is about the same as the States, but depending where you travel, you may be able to find affordable childcare.

One friend in Guatemala shared with me the cost of her five-day a week, full-day preschool. It was about what I pay for two days of half-day care in the States. Whatever your personal circumstances and needs, you may find a more sustainable situation abroad.

Bonding 


I struggled to bond with Ella after she was born. The whole experience threw me for a wild loop. I wasn’t “handling it” well.

Then, the three of us lived together in a studio apartment with few family or friends nearby. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that plan, it bonded us in ways I’ll never fully be able to describe. We became a family in that little apartment in San Telmo.

No Missed Opportunities


The chance to move to South America came to us when Ella was two months old. We didn’t plan it that way, but that’s when the opportunity became available.

I’m so glad we didn’t pass it up. I think I would have often looked back, wondering “what if?” And even though it was a challenge, I had unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences those four months.

Great Stories to Tell Your Kids



She will not remember her early days in Argentina. Billy and I often joke that one day Ella will announce her need to return to Buenos Aires to “discover her roots.” But it’s a fun part of her life history. And we get to tell her about it.

We tell her how when she was a baby, a giraffe almost licked her in the face. (Argentine zoos let you get up close and personal!) We tell her how she loved riding the subway and watching the musicians who entertained the commuters. We laugh about how she once rode in a golf cart in Uruguay and the time she slept in front of the Golden Gate bridge.

They are her stories, and they are our stories. It was a wild first year, but I’m so glad we exposed her to the world and that we engaged the opportunities that came our way.

If you’re thinking about traveling with young ones, you totally should. It’ll take some extra preparation and a fresh dose of flexibility, but the memories are forever.

Have you traveled with young kids? Was it a good experience?

Other posts you might enjoy: 

14 GIFs Only Parents Flying With Young Children Will Understand
Everything You Need To Know About Flying Babies
58 Thoughts You Have While Trying To Take A Baby Passport Photo

When Culture and Humor Kiss


I got pretty excited when I stumbled across the trailer for Pulling Strings. A chick flick about a white girl living in Mexico who falls for a Latino musician? Yes, please.

Naturally, I convinced Billy we should watch this stellar epic after the kids went to bed one night. He obliged because he’s nice like that.

Apparently, it’s been a good year for Mexican film, and I definitely enjoyed Instructions Not Included. I liked this one, too, although I may have been too excited and over-hyped it for myself.

I mean… it was what it was. A chick flick about a white girl living in Mexico who falls for a Latino musician. I think you get the picture. I would watch it again. Ha!

But what stood out to me (besides a continued love of the natural Spanglish and subtitling these movies are including) was the humor. In particular, there was the funny sidekick, Canicas, played by Mexican comedian Omar Chaparro.

First of all, a little research has revealed this guy is my new found hero. He has traveled to the Olympics and the World Cup with Televisa simply to “make comedy sketches,” according to the well-trusted news site, Wikipedia. How awesome is that?!

Billy was already familiar with him from his role on a family comedy show called No Manches. And Billy thinks he’s hilarious… and proceeded to laugh at all his jokes. Even when they weren’t that funny. Okay, that’s my opinion.

At first, I wondered if the subtitles weren’t conveying the humor accurately. I know enough Spanish that there were a few expressions I was surprised at the English translation. It wouldn’t be how I would’ve explained them, so I thought maybe I was missing something.

Later that week, I came across this NPR article on "the funniest joke in the world.” It offered some interesting insights into the role of culture in what we find humorous. I was disappointed to read, “Americans like jokes that include insults or vague threats.” C’mon folks, we can do better (or else….)!

Humor is one of my favorite things. And it’s fascinating to me to think about how that varies based on our cultural background.

I have, at times, seen this play out in my marriage. I recently had an episode of Friends on the TV, and I realized Billy was chuckling. “You used to hate this show,” I reminded him.

“Yeah, I know,” he replied. “I think the longer I’ve lived in America, the more I get the jokes. The funnier I find it.” Interesting.

Where do you see culture influence humor? And, of course, you can always tell me a joke in the comments! I will laugh. Promise.

Channeling My Tiger Mama

My book club recently discussed the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. People have all kinds of feelings about that book, but I’ll just put it out there and say I liked it… with a grain of salt. And I definitely won’t attempt to tackle all the pros and cons and nuances of that material in this post.

But one thing I’ve been reflecting on is the concept of pushing our children to do things they don’t enjoy. I know a lot of folks bristle at that concept, and I understand that. But I think one thing I’m realizing is that I’m already doing that. 

I’ve been so encouraged by Ella’s bilingual process as of late. However, something interesting has been happening in the past few weeks.

Billy will be speaking to her in Spanish and in response, I’ll hear her answer, “I can’t hear you, Papa!” She starts quiet, but as her frustration grows, her claim that she “can’t hear” get exponentially louder. She recently used this same line when a friend was speaking to her in Spanish.

She can’t understand. And she doesn’t even know how to communicate that barrier, so she just keeps shouting “I can’t hear you!”

One day as I witnessed this exchange happening between Ella and Billy, I saw his tendency to start speaking to her in English. In a way that I hoped was encouraging, but was more likely irritating, I started chiming in with “Keep doing it. Keep talking to her in Spanish!”

Now everyone’s talking and everyone’s frustrated. But for some reason, I don’t mind it. I know she’s capable. I fully trust that she will master becoming bilingual – maybe not at the level I hope, but I know she will become competent.

But that result requires an effort and commitment from us that has to constantly be renewed. Because it’s a challenge. But I won’t back down just because it’s difficult. (Of course, that’s easy for me to say since I am actively involved in no way.)

That tiger mom conversation was fresh on my mind as we were navigating this exchange, though, and I thought once again that I will keep pushing. I know one day she will be grateful, even if her 3-year old self is standing in the kitchen, hollering, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

How do you lovingly push your kids with their best interests at heart?

Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links, meaning if you purchase an item via my link, I will have the opportunity to toss money in the air and holla "make it rain!"

On Being the Only White Girl in Aerobics


I was standing in the aerobics room for a little while before I looked around the class of about thirty folks and realized, hmm, I’m the only white girl in this room. Everyone else was black.

I am rarely in all-white, or even predominately white, environments. But I am also rarely the only white person in a room. So I noticed.

The music started pumping, and I was obediently clomping up and down on my plastic step. While I love a good aerobics class, I’m not regular enough to really “get good” at it.

In other words, as the instructor calls out commands like we’re square dancing in a discotech, I don’t really keep up. I stop. I watch what everyone else is doing and jump back in. My poor transitioning skills work in my favor because I’m woefully out of shape. Studying everyone’s feet gives me time to breath.

Suddenly I started thinking to myself, “Sarah, get it together. You are making ALL WHITE PEOPLE LOOK BAD.” Because, you know, there’s some stereotypes about white people and dancing (as exemplified in this little gem).

I found myself wishing I could explain myself to my classmates. In my mind, I have various signs hanging around my neck:

“I didn’t used to be this clumsy and out of shape. In fact, I was a varsity basketball player in a past life. But in this life, I had a baby mere months ago!” 

“Please forgive my hips. It’s not because I’m white. It’s because somewhere in my religious background I internalized this idea that swaying my hips to music is a slippery, slippery slope!” 

“I will get this, folks. I was once enrolled in an ADULT CHRISTIAN HIP HOP DANCE CLASS. I got this!” 

But wearing a sandwich board in aerobics seems impractical at best, so I tucked away my mental rationalizations.

After a water break, a girl about my age turned me and said, “You’re doing great… especially for your first time.”

I wanted to say, “Thanks. It’s actually not my first time, just in this class.” But when I opened my mouth, I literally couldn’t form words. Just a breathless giggle.

Still, I was surprised how much I appreciated her speaking to me. Normally, I’m not a big fan of strangers greeting me. (I’m sorry. Could I sound any more socially awkward and not like the extrovert that I actually am?)

But I did feel “on the outside” in that class. Partly because I was new, but also because of my skin color. I was really grateful for someone to simply say hello to me.

Reflecting on the class, I've wondered about friends of color experiencing all-white (or predominately white) environments. Is there a nervousness about reinforcing stereotypes? A desire to issue statements of explanation or rationalization like I had?

I can’t imagine how exhausting that must feel. I was wiped out after aerobics. Sure, for obvious reasons, but also because I’d been thinking so much.

I have hesitated to write this post. First of all, I know other people were probably thinking about me very little. And secondly, I have wondered if I would’ve even thought about the situation as much if I wasn’t thinking about blogging.

But also, I hesitate because I don’t want to compare how foolish I may look scrambling to execute an “L-step” to issues of true isolation, misunderstanding and damaging stereotypes. I don’t want to seem like I’m making light of real issues of race.

On the other hand, I am writing about it because in the multicultural life I’ve chosen, I’m thinking and talking about race often. There are many situations in which Billy is “the only” Latino, and we talk about it. We live in an African American neighborhood, and race is a topic of conversation there, too.

I also have thought a lot about the young woman who said hello to me. While I generally notice the racial make up of a room, I don’t always think to reach out if there’s only one person of color in a group of white folks. I want to be more aware to say hello. Hopefully, I can welcome someone else the way I felt welcomed.

Do you notice race in new settings? What have been your experiences?

Photo credit: Kenny Holston
A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.