What I'm Into {June}

If you read this blog regularly, you already know I've been into the World Cup this June. So I'm just going to blow right past it for this monthly update with Leigh Kramer's link up.

I adore summer. So it's been super fun to get outside, spending our free time at parks and pools. Here's a few things I've been into this June:


This app could totally change your life. I'm completely serious. It's an intuitive design software for those of us who love the idea but don't have the skills.

You can whip up some pretty fun stuff with this bad boy. I had so much fun putting together this infographic!

Toddler Art

Ella got creative this month, too. This character haunts me around the house. It's square smile is plastered on every scrap piece of paper in the house, the bathroom walls, and the carpet in the guest room.

Lest you wonder if Ella is often left alone at home for long stretches of time, I assure you she is an artist that can boast of speed and her ability to find a clandestine moment. I see a bright graffiti portfolio in her future.

A friend recommended this stain remover off Amazon. The guest room carpet is already looking better!

To the Theater

To give Ella more time to decorate, Billy and I went out for a date night this month. We randomly saw the movie Blended with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Our expectations were pretty low, but we were pleasantly surprised. There were some parts that actually made me laugh out loud, which is actually kind of a challenge for a movie.

What was not funny? My book club saw The Fault in Our Stars. It's a tear-jerker! Weird coming of age moment for me, though. I related to the mother more than the adolescent main character. Basically anytime the parents were on screen, I was crying.

The Stranger

Billy and I were invited to share our immigration story at a local screen of The Stranger. It's a film from the Evangelical Immigration Table.

I super appreciated the variety of stories the film included. It gave a really diverse view of the challenges immigrant families are facing and reaffirmed the urgent need for reform. So glad we got to see it and participate.

Best Birthday Present EVER

Okay, you all. So Billy bought me the best birthday gift. My birthday's not till next month, but he bought it in June, so I'm including it now.

He got me a day tour of the local Hunger Games FILMING SITES HERE IN ATLANTA. I would type this whole paragraph in caps if it wouldn't be too hard to read. Forget it... I'M VISITING THE HUNGER GAMES FILMING SITES!

There's also a themed lunch. Can you imagine it? Actually, now that I write that out, I realize it's called the Hunger Games. And they mostly ate like berries and leaves. I should pack some snacks....

What are your favorites from June? (And are you watching the World Cup?)

Vamos CONCACAF! {#WorldCupWives}

Mexico is eliminated in a crushing and (some would say) controversial game. Billy joins me in today's World Cup Wives update.

It's quite possible this is the most soccer-focused World Cup video I've ever made.

(Note: If you're reading this via email or RSS, you may need to click here to watch the video.)

Who are you pulling for this round of 16? (I think it may have an official name... Sweet Sixteen... no, I don't think that's it...) A fan of the CONCACAF?

Why We're Sending Our Kids to Spanish Immersion School

I am excited today to introduce you to Bronwyn. I first came across her blog when she shared this post on the G92 blog about her immigration experience. It's an absolute must-read. I'm honored to feature her guest post today on the important topic of raising children to be compassionate towards others.

I grew up as white, English-speaking person in Apartheid South Africa. My parents were liberal and did their best to raise us as open-mindedly as possible, but even with their best efforts we grew up privileged.

One of the significant things about privilege is that we are often blind to it if we are beneficiaries of it. How would you know that beige Band-Aids favor white people’s skin tones, unless you had a dark-skinned friend who complained that bandages were always so conspicuous on her?

It was only in my 20’s at seminary, making friends with South Africans from different tribes and racial groups, and who spoke different languages, that I began to see my privilege through their eyes.

I never had to translate the instructions on a bank form into my home language, because official documents were always written in my home language. I never had to think about which bathrooms to use, because the easily accessible public bathroom was always the one for white people.

I may have been raised liberal, but I still had little understanding of the ‘other’.

Being an immigrant in the United States was my first experience of being ‘other’: having my paperwork regarded with suspicion on arrival at the airport, my driver’s license from my home country rejected when I tried to buy a bottle of wine because the cashier “didn’t recognize it."

As well-meaning and welcoming as our community wanted to be, there were still times we felt frustrated and hurt in situations where people simply presumed things about us.

I felt ‘other’. It was uncomfortable. And it was redemptive.

Ten years later, we are parents to three first-generation American children. They are white. They are English speaking. They have well-educated parents and live in a well-resourced school district. They are poised for a life in which they can succeed in a way which few others are privileged enough to do.

And while I gratefully acknowledge that blessing, that opportunity, that privilege – I am reminded of how hard it is to learn the lesson of the ‘other’ when life’s cards are dealt in your favor.

And so it was that, when the time came for us to choose a public school for our children, we opted not to go for the neighborhood school with the award-winning Montessori program 100 yards from our front door.

Instead, we committed to a drive half way across town, to the school where all the instruction in early elementary school is done in Spanish.

My daughter complained. She didn’t understand. The classes were hard. She didn’t know what she was supposed to do. Her confidence took a knock, and she told me she didn’t want to go back to school.

“Please, Mommy,” she said, “please can I just go to the school in our neighborhood?”

I tousled my daughter’s head and told her I understood that it was hard, and that I loved her and would help her, and that I believed that she could do hard things. I comforted her as best I could, and then the next day – I sent her back to that Spanish school, even though she no habla espanol and she hated it.

For she doesn’t know it yet – but we are not sending her there primarily to learn mathematics, or even to learn another language. We are sending her there to experience life as the ‘other’, and to learn the compassion that comes from being the one not understood.

Our hope is that, in the years to come, she will meet someone who is struggling to make themselves understood in an English-dominant world, and she will remember what it was like to not understand. And she will show mercy.

Bronwyn Lea is a South-African transplant to California, raising kids at home and raising questions on her blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Will the U.S. Advance Tomorrow? {#WorldCupWives}

It's a fair question that deserves an answer. Will we win? Will we lose? Will we tie? Does it matter?

There's a lot of questions about the U.S.'s chances to advance past the group round. Never fear... the World Cup Wives are here!

(Note: If you're reading this via email or RSS, you may need to click here to watch the video.)

If you'd like to read another take, check out this article. (Thanks, Ashleigh M.!) Or here's an up close and personal view of Katie's spreadsheet of possibilities:

First Image Source: Nike

The Incident {#WorldCupWives}

Some exciting things happened at the World Cup today. Costa Rica came through to be #1 in Group D, which was awesome-ly underdog shocking!

And then someone had the opportunity to tweet this picture above. Katie and I talk about Uruguay's Luis Suarez.

(Note: If you're reading this via email or RSS, you may need to click here to watch the video.)

Did you see this? Please... weigh in.

Creatively Brilliant Immigration Reform? Yes, Please!

Remember a couple years ago when states decided to take immigration matters into their own hands? Always a leader in human relations, the South took a special pride in trying to pass the harshest laws.

States began passing bills making it illegal to have someone without papers riding in your car or living in your home. It was an eery time when anyone from police officers to grocery clerks were expected to check IDs with immigration status in mind.

At the time, we were living in an Atlanta neighborhood that was almost 30% abandoned. Boarded houses and overgrown properties were common. Business-minded folks interested in opening shop faced the grim reality of a limited customer base.

I remember thinking, "We should be begging immigrants to move here, not scaring them away. Think what it would do for our local economy." Not to mention the statistic that immigrants are twice as likely to open new businesses in a community. It sounded like the infusion of new life our neighborhood could really enjoy.

I'm happy to report that some new states, frustrated with our mind-bogglingly slow Congress, are taking up immigration with an entirely new twist.

New York has been discussing a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants state citizenship. Immigrants without federal legal status would be able to receive driver's licenses, state professional licenses, and state-controlled benefits. Residents would also be eligible for in-state tuition at colleges and universities.

Personally, I think this is brilliant. Take advantage of the talent present in your state. The push and pull factors affecting national immigration are too plentiful and complex to be summed up in campaign-ready statements like "secure the borders," "deport lawbreakers," or even "amnesty."

But the reality is that people exist and are living in our communities. Don't push bright, honest youth into an underground economy that weakens social ties and negatively impacts neighborhoods. It's forward-thinking for states to offer opportunities while we all continue to wait for common sense reform from the federal government.

Bill supporters in New York have admitted this legislation is unlikely to pass on the first go-round. But it is inspiring similar actions in states like Oregon, Maryland, and Illinois.  

I'm encouraged to see creativity in this crucial issue that affects scores of families. We need reform, and we need it now. As long as Congress continues to shuffle immigrant families in political games, I hope more states will step up and offer hospitality to its own residents.

Image credit: jvoves

World Cup Family Fun! {#WorldCupWives}

Part of the joy of the World Cup has been watching the games and celebrating with our kids. (You know... when we're not at crazy bars...)

The kiddos have all been working on their sticker books for months, and today we enjoyed the uber family-friendly Atlanta Soccerfest.

Here's a quick video check-in. The kids and our husbands even make cameos! And look at us... so Americana.

Unfortunately, I forgot to where my awesome, sparkly top hat for the video. It was a big hit on the train ride to the game!

(Note: If you're reading this via email or RSS, you may need to click here to watch the video.)

And what a game it turned out to be! We had to leave at half-time because... you know... children. But we saw the U.S.'s first goal while we were riding the train back. Billy let out a quiet yelp.

Then on the car ride from the train station to home, I watched on Billy's phone and narrated. The ball was kicked. Kicked again! 2 minutes left. Portugal has it. Now the U.S. People are head-butting it back and forth. (It was a lot like this.)

Let's just say at some point he asked me to stop. But I didn't want him to miss anything. I'm a good wife like that. LOL.

So I hope you are continuing to enjoy the international festivities. If you are looking for fun ways to engage your children, here are a couple sites to check out:

A Vuvuzela - This Horn's for You! - World Music with Daria

Hosting a World Cup Party for Kids - Multicultural Kid Blogs

How have you been celebrating with your kiddos?

Global Family, Team Spirit, & the World Cup

We were sitting around the dinner table at the start of the World Cup when Billy decided it was time to impart his lifelong passion to his eldest daughter. "Vamos Argentina!" they both hollered.

He lovingly explained to her that he's been cheering for Argentina since childhood. "It's our family team," he told her.

"And the U.S." I interjected. "We cheer for the U.S., too."

"Yes," he agreed, nodding emphatically. "I'm a citizen now. We support both."

A moment passed, and then he added, "And Honduras. We gotta represent Central America!"

We all three nodded in unison. Argentina, the U.S., Honduras. Some might see us as indecisive or disloyal, but the reality is that we connect to multiple countries. So we cheer for multiple countries.

I've written before about identity work with patriotic clothes. The World Cup is similar to me. We're acknowledging and affirming our children's multicultural identities by routing for all the countries we love.

This philosophy may fly in the face of a competitive society that focuses on winning. But when you're building a multicultural framework for your kids and your family, there has be room for more than one favorite team.

And now that the Ticos (Costa Ricans) are shocking the world, we cheer for them, too. They're fellow Central Americans. We just got a lot of love to go around the globe.

Well, except Portugal... I don't think Billy will cheer for Cristiano Ronaldo. At all... Maybe if he announced he's actually Guatemalan. LOL.

Do you cheer for one team or more?

In a Translation Pinch? Bada Bing!

Do you have a multilingual News Feed on Facebook? Thanks to my husband and many of our friends, I have a pretty regular stream of Spanish updates on my screen.

Often, I know enough Spanglish to decipher the basic gist. But thanks to the World Cup, the Espanol in my Feed has increased. And sometimes I need a bit of help to keep up. 

Hello, Bing!

Have you ever noticed that handy "See Translation" tag underneath foreign language updates? It offers hilarious pseudo-translations of your friends' comments.

Here are some examples of my husband's updates and the accompanying translations:

"It should be cold." But it's super hot.. don't let the pictures fool you!

This one... I don't understand at all. "Converted into the boat time where all referees want us."

And my favorite:

Because... batteries, people!!!! This became a Quezada catchphrase for a while after this post.

My other favorite thing is that Bing translates "Chapines," a slang term for "Guatemalans" as "slippers." Makes for some amusing updates.

Have you had fun, albeit confusing, translation experiences?

The U.S. Wins! {#WorldCupWives}

What. A. Game. What an experience! Ghana eliminated the US four years ago, and given everyone tossing around the phrase "Group of Death," things weren't looking up this year.

But what do you know? In this exciting World Cup with all the goals and only one tie so far, another underdog rose up. Way to go U.S.!

It was a rough one, though. People were dropping like flies. One shocker was Dempsey being scissor kicked in the face by a Ghanian player doing the flying splits. That's the official description, by the way. ;) You can see what I'm talking about here.

Hands down the best part of this game for the World Cup Wives was watching it at a local soccer pub. I love community. I love hype. So this was basically the perfect place to be.

Katie's husband got us rock star seats because he showed up at 11:30 am... for a 6 o'clock game. Thank goodness he did, though. We had perfect people watching seats. And honestly, without my kids, it's the first game I've truly been able to watch. So much fun!

Here's a few reasons you should definitely watch a World Cup game in a crowd at some point this summer:

1. Costumes - People love to wear flags as capes. Apparently, it's something we should do on a more regular basis people seem to enjoy it so much. Also, I am now in the market for a sparkly, Americana top hat. Once you've seen one, you have to have it.

2. Drums - Maybe this was specific to our local, but there were drummers. And a drummer just always makes life more fun!

3. Bathroom Lines - For ladies, there hardly was one. Men were complaining in the hallway. This amused the ladies, who literally began hi-fiving each other in the restroom because there was such a short line. It was halftime, but we were ON TOP OF THE WORLD!

4. Cheers - I don't know what you call those men who take charge of leading cheers among groups of strangers at games and pubs into adulthood. But they show up and do their job. Hats off to them!

5. Hype - My ears are still ringing from the goals scored. People booed bad calls. I hi-fived strangers. It's the beautiful experience of being part of something bigger than yourself.

You should definitely try to watch a game in public if you can this summer. Next up, we want to find out where the Argentine fans watch games in Atlanta!

Here'a a quick, shot-on-location video, as promised, for y'all. Happy World Cup!

(Note: If you're reading this via email or RSS, you may need to click here to watch the video.)

Did you cheer for the U.S.? Do you have a pub/bar where you like to watch games?

The Fashion Report {#WorldCupWives}

Image Source: Societe Perrier

I had no idea that teams change up their jerseys from the previous World Cup. I mean... I guess it has been four years. These guys gotta keep in style. 

We've been eyeing the threads and the conversation on Twitter has been sprinkled with lots of opinions on the jerseys. Here's a quick video update after the first weekend of games!

Want to read more about the teams' fashion choices? The World Cup Wives got your back. Here's some fun articles from across the web:

The Real Reason Uruguay Lost to Costa Rica via Buzzfeed (Oh, Uruguay....)

Every World Cup Jersey Ranked From Worst to Best from the wise guys at GQ - This article tells you awesome stuff like which team commissioned their own font! #dreamcometrue

What's your favorite jersey so far? 

And we'd love to see you, your kids, or your family sporting your fan-tastic duds! Post on the Facebook page or share on Twitter with hashtag #WorldCupWives!

Let the Games Begin! {#WorldCupWives}

All the counting down, bracket filling out, and general hype has led to this moment. The World Cup has begun! It's been so fun to hear your game experiences on Twitter. (Join us tweeting the hashtag #WorldCupWives.)

Here's our take on the opening ceremonies, the inaugural game, and the start of the world's biggest tournament. (Is that true? I just kinda made that up... seems plausible.)

How do you watch the first game? Did you see the opening ceremonies?

Image source: CBC Sports

5 Ways To Enjoy the World Cup (without watching soccer)

Today is the day! Opening ceremonies and the first tournament game. I can hardly handle the excitement.

5 Awesome World Cup Ads {#WorldCupWives}

If you watch the Superbowl for the commercials, you're going to LOVE the World Cup. Already, lots of ads are popping up, and I've been wasting a lot of time enjoying them!

There's a lot of buzz about the Nike ad, but I'm going to be honest, it includes a little too much soccer for my taste. Still, it's pretty fun, but here are a few more that play up the hype we love so much. Hopefully, you'll get a kick out of them! (See what I did there....)


A sports commentator calling a first date? Yes, please!

DirectTV Latin America 

Oliver Stone sits in as the "producer" for the World Cup. He reminds everyone that the games are about more than soccer.

ESPN (Again...)

This ESPN ad focuses on the fans, who let's be honest, are the true stars of the games. The people and the parties. This one gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. (Also, the guy from Seattle? I think that's going to be me on Thursday...)


Oh, Cristiano Ronaldo. You are so marketable, with your Ken doll-like appearance and model girlfriend. This fun ad reminds us there have been a lot of great players of the game. Thanks to reader Denise H. for sharing it with the #WorldCupWives!

And finally, since we all love the stickers so much, here's a World Cup ad for Panini. Also, in reference to the recent post on celebrities you may have not known are bilingual, Kobe Bryant speaks fluent Italian.

Which ad is your favorite? Have you seen other good ones? Share in the comments!

Trafficking in Justice

Image credit: Fernando Rodríguez

The first time I walked into a sweat shop, I thought to myself, “Hmmm. Not as bad as I thought it would be.”

I had “entered without invitation” the work rooms above L.A.’s Fashion District. Windows were flung open for ventilation. Women bent over sewing machines while men unrolled bolts of fabric. The manager worked alongside or sat in his office.

Sometimes the employees were open to conversation, and it was an eye-opening, challenging experience. I wouldn’t call the conditions good. But I also didn’t witness the “horrors” I’d expected.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the stories we tell about injustice. Everywhere you turn, there’s a blog post or an article or a documentary sharing someone’s story to highlight the need for change.

I love to hear people’s stories.

And as a writer who cares about injustice, I want to tell stories that matter.

In the last month, we’ve had four different opportunities to share Billy’s story as part of the larger narrative on immigration. We have been grateful for the invitations. These requests, however, have led us to some very interesting conversations about how we tell our story.

It’s easy to say Billy lived in a closet for a year and use that experience to further the message that immigration reform is needed. And we are passionate about advocacy.

The only problem is that Billy’s year of closet life was somewhat unrelated. As he points out, he asked to live in that warehouse and no one made him bunk in the closet. More importantly, due to his socioeconomic background, he could have moved back to Guatemala at any time.

Of course, his experience does not invalidate the truth of others’ stories that may include forced labor or restricted freedoms. Those tales of injustice are real. And the reality is, most people want to hear those stories.

It takes me back to my Evangelical upbringing. Everyone (well, most people) will acknowledge my three year old prayer asking Jesus into my heart as transformational. But let’s be honest, it doesn’t make as good of a story as the drug dealer turned youth pastor testimonial.

In today’s storytelling culture, the same remains true. We don’t just want anecdotes about everyday suffering or the structural presence of injustice, we want suspense, drama, pain and epic redemption.

Society’s love of a good story throws an interesting wrench into the social movements of today. Educating about an injustice is not enough, you must woo supporters with one incredible story.

But what if you don’t have one? What if you just have boring injustice?

Billy and I talked about the places injustice exists in his story. Not getting paid for a month’s worth of work with absolutely no option for recourse. Watching a former friend try to have him deported when he didn’t get his way. Walking through an immigration process that actually hadadvantages for us due to socioeconomic background.

But none of these facts are very gripping. And so, when we find ourselves passionate about immigration reform, it’s easy to question how we tell our story. I think this is true for many folks who work to eradicate plain ‘ole injustice.

I’ve been in conversations about how to incorporate human trafficking, a "hot" social justice topic, into the discussion of not-so-hot injustice. It actually relates to immigration, but it’s hard for me to accept that certain words will impact how interested we are.

And actually, even sex trafficking has chosen to upsell injustice sometimes. If you’ve followed the Newsweek story on Somaly Mam, it’s raising some interesting conversation about embellishing stories of injustice to raise big dollars for a legitimately important cause.

But here’s something Billy and I have talked about quite a bit this month. When you dramatize a story of injustice, what does that mean for the story’s protagonist? No one wants to be introduced as a victim, as someone to be pitied. And yet, for many of us to care about an issue, those heart strings have to be pulled.

We feel bad for Mam’s girls, for the tragedies they experienced. If the truth is a bit less horrifying, it’s not long before some blogger, news outlet, or weirdo on Twitter is citing all the ways they could have changed their experiences. Pointing out each instance where their lapse in judgment “caused” injustice to happen to them.

Do we need people to be completely helpless before they are worth helping?

But I actually hold a great deal of empathy when a story of injustice is exaggerated. I understand how those raising money or awareness (or both) need to make an impact to incite a response.

But I also hope we can choose to do things differently. Can we focus on the structures of injustice, even if they affect some people less dramatically than others? Can we choose to support causes because humans should have the opportunity for choice in their lives? Let’s do it!

Sticker-palooza! {#WorldCupWives}

We've already heard from several of you that you are knee-deep in sticker wrappers just like us! If you have no idea what I'm talking about or you've nearly completed your sticker book, you'll enjoy our next video from the World Cup Wives.

As icing on the cake, we've linked up with Panini to offer a giveaway. You could win 140 stickers of your very own! We're actually selecting three different winners, so enter away! (U.S. mailing address required.)

(Note: If you're reading this via email or RSS, you may need to click here to watch the video and enter.)

Since we filmed this video, we shared some of the stickers with the husbands as a thanks for all their support in this World Cup fun. Secondly, we're already in the middle of planning an Atlanta-area trading party. Ha! If you're in the area, hit me up for details.

Enter to win! We'll accept entries until Monday, June 9 at 12 p.m. EST. You can enter every day for more entries. Shout out to Panini America for sending us stickers!
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