A Few of My Favorite Things {June 2015}

I heart summer! And June is a good part of summer where you're not quite exhausted from languishing in your own sweat in 92% humidity. You've still got some spring in your step when you haul forty-five totes to the swimming pool. (Why on earth do I need so much stuff?!)

June: good times all around. I mean, how cute is this kid at the pool?

Besides the pool, here's a few more of my June favorites:

Sunset Kayaking

It's hard to believe we've lived in Atlanta six years. This is definitely a record for me, but I'm finding I'm really enjoying getting to know a city and an area for more than a couple years.

We've visited Sweetwater Creek State Park many times, and it's a great, super close nature space to enjoy with the kiddos. But we had no idea they offered kayaking on the reservoir! This was a highlight for us for sure.

Billy and I both love water, and it was so peaceful to be out on the water at twilight, paddling and splashing. Naturally, I wore my waterproof hipbelt, which proved to be both useful and incredibly cool.

Bring Back the Dinos!

Jurassic World. Seriously, this movie was so great. I had mediocre expectations because it's not like dinosaur movies are my go-to. And also... how can you replicate the greatness of Jurassic Park and the glory of my middle school days?

But it was super impressive - you'll laugh, you'll scream. Who could ask for me? Also, I snuck in my sparkling water because that's how I roll. And it turns out the empty can rolls, too, when you accidentally kick it over during the movie. Billy pretended not to know me.


Billy and Gabriella spent a week in Guatemala. If you ask the girl about the trip, there were two main highlights: her Elsa piñata and what she refers to as Kid City. She and her cousins went to Kid City, where they were issued debit cards and given cash, and then they got to live in a replica world run by kids.

She got jobs, like working as a grocery cashier or a gas station attendant, and used her earnings to pay for her manicure and her river raft ride. Billy got a special badge to go in with her to all the exhibits because he was her translator. While that makes me a little sad on the bilingual kid front, it meant really fun memories (and more pics) for the two of them.

While they were gone, Isaac and I rocked life as two wild single people. We hung out with friends, watched a lot of Heartland (or "horsey" as Isaac calls it), and went to the gym a lot for some reason. (Oh yeah, free childcare... that's the reason.)

My Favorite Purchase

Once home from Guatemala for about ten minutes, Billy said, "I see we got a new paper shredder while I was away." I do love a good paper shredder.

Ours broke forever ago, and when you're as involved in international spy work as we are, you really need a high-quality shredder. Side note: I once had a job that involved hours of standing at an industrial shredder after I had committed all the pages to microfiche. Long live 1974!

Summer Reading List

I have started listening to The Maze Runner on Audible. (Seriously, click here to try Audible and you can download two books for FREE!) I liked the movie alright, but I kept having this feeling that the book would be even better. We'll see!

I also got The Good Shufu in the mail. So exciting! I can't wait to start reading this one.

All the Links

Here's a few favorite links I shared this month:

Attraction Is (Almost) Colorblind - Ultimately, it's the open window you have to watch out for in marriage!

Images of International Borders Speak Volumes - Stunning photos from international borders all over the world. They are very eye-opening.

When Daddy Has an Accent - The struggle is real.

21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own - This one blew me away.

And here are a few posts on A Life with Subtitles that readers enjoyed:

Celebrating Rockstar Couples for Loving Day - It was a joy to highlight interracial and intercultural couples on this historic anniversary.

Conversations in Casa Quezada - I wrote this guest post of our favorite, funny Spanglish mix-ups!

Does God Speak Spanish? - Our first bicultural kid discussion on the intersection of faith and culture.

I'm linking up with Leigh Kramer again this month. Keep me posted on what you're into this June, too!

In Case You Need to Beat Elsa with a Stick

We had a piñata at Gabriella's first birthday. It was one of the brightly colored ponies you can buy at Party City. With enthusiastic delight, Billy strung it up between two trees. 

He then introduced me to (what appeared to me as) a complex rope and pulley system, which allows party hosts to actually slide the piñata back and forth between the two trees. It really revolutionized my perception of piñatas since this setup makes it much harder for kids (or adults) to actually connect with their paper mache nemesis. It can be quite amusing to watch.

A young kid vested Billy at Gabriella's party, however, and broke it on the first try. This led Billy to blame poor, American piñata construction, which I found hilarious.

Also, in comparison to my daughter's recent Guatemalan piñata, that pony was also minuscule. Look at this bad boy Elsa! 

I love how Gabriella's holding her hand. Best friends forever! (Just sleep with one eye open, girlie, because if the occasion calls for it, I will whack you with a stick...)

We held off on Frozen for forever, but a couple months ago, Gabriella watched it for the first time. She was hooked. Now we've watched it probably more than anything else, including Daniel Tiger getting mad. Even Isaac is smitten as he points at the TV throughout the day, asking, "Ana?"

So Ella's love of Frozen translated into a giant, bigger-than-her piñata of Elsa. The fact that this Frozen princess was filled with candy just endeared her to Gabriella even more.

Billy sent me this picture with the simple caption: "Chocolate or poop?" (We love Baby Mama, by the way, if you get that reference.)

So we love a good piñata, and the kids have an absolute ball. So I'm left with just one question. Am I the only one who finds it the least bit strange that we string up and whack our kids' favorite characters to death?

Does God Speak Spanish?

She wriggles in the pew while I hold Isaac back from his unrelenting desire to rush Papi on the stage. Billy is playing guitar in the band, and the Spanish worship music is a live soundtrack for my own personal circus as Gabriella talks in a whisper-shout and Isaac tries to escape my arms with Houdini-like artistry.

Suddenly, Gabriella looks up, barely makes eye contact, and asks into the wind, "Does God speak Spanish?" I mumble an enthusiastic, "Of course!" while Isaac executes a sudden and impressive backbend, leaving me holding "boy rainbow."

The End.

That was our whole conversation on a topic I've wondered about for years. Not which language God speaks exactly, but how bilingual kids understand God and faith and spirituality when church is in their minority language.

Does God feel distant? Will she only connect to God in the limited vocabulary of her Spanish? Are we giving her the tools to understand faith in English or Spanish? Am I over-thinking it all?

Of course, Gabriella hears about God in English as well. We read Bible stories before bed. She listens to her Adventures in Odyssey CDs. And she's a big of YouVersion's Bible app for kids.

Still, I wonder if my quick response that of course God speaks Spanish says to her that God doesn't speak English? I actually think that bicultural kids have a very unique and sacred opportunity to understand God.

They can appreciate on a deeper level how God came to earth and joined our culture. How Jesus was fully man while also fully God. They can have deeper insight on what it can mean to be in this world but not of it. It is truly beautiful.

We may not be having those discussions just yet, but I can see Gabriella's brain turning. She wants to know God, and she is already asking questions about culture. My prayer is that her bicultural identity actually brings her closer to God rather than creating an artificial distance.
Did you attend church in your minority language growing up? Does language affect your relationship with God? How do you help your kids - whatever their language(s) - to understand God?  

That Time They Told Me I Had "Jungle Fever"

I was in the eighth grade gym class when a girl told me I had "jungle fever." I didn't know what that meant. But I could tell from the tone and sly glances that I didn't need to see a doctor, but it also wasn't something I wanted to have.

I was a basketball player in middle school, and consequently, that meant I interacted with many of the African American students at my predominately white school. The girls' and boys' teams shared a schedule, and we traveled together to away games.

Naturally, friendships developed. And since were all 13ish, flirty friendships developed as well. I was friends with one of the guys on the team... who was black.

That "jungle fever" encounter is my first memory of uneasiness around race and interracial relationships. If I had heard negative messages previously, I don't recall them.

Though my pre-middle school childhood was predominately white, people of color were a part: our beloved librarian (we spent A LOT of time at the library growing up), my 3rd/4th grade teacher, family friends with whom we shared dinner occasionally. At those ages, I never thought actively about skin color or who society thought I should or shouldn't be hanging out with.

It was several years later when I saw Spike Lee's film Jungle Fever on the shelf at the video store. (Remember those?) It all clicked, and my suspicions were confirmed. Back in middle school, I was being mocked, or maybe chastised, for the skin hue of my friend.

Because of Billy's skin tone, we rarely encounter straight up racism. In fact, the main place we have experienced explicit disdain is at the airport, when we were forced to reveal mismatching passports.

Still, I wonder how many young girls are being reminded to "stick with your own." Whether by adults in their life or mean girls in the locker room. Still, I came across this infographic that actually says interracial marriages have basically doubled since I was born. Pretty amazing.

I know society is not the same as it was in 1995. Yet I also know there are still real racial struggles, prejudice, and fear. My hope is that as more interracial and multicultural couples continue to be a part of everyday life, young mixed couples will feel encouraged and supported.
What's your first memory (if you have one - and I kinda hope you don't) of being reminded to date within your own race? 

The Women's World Cup Round-Up {#WorldCupWives}

I'm excited to dust off the #WorldCupWives hashtag this summer to give a shout out to the Women's World Cup. A couple months ago, Jeff and Billy (Katie's and my husbands) announced they would be launching #WorldCupHusbands to follow along the tournament while commenting on how cute the players are.

Obviously, I would have loved to see this happen. However, I do think they may not exactly remember our content from last summer. I have no memory of cuteness commentary. Although, I did take this photo - precious!

But similar to the men's tournament last year, I am significantly less interested in the soccer part of the World Cup as I am all the hype surrounding the players and the teams.

I must admit, though, that it's been harder to find the online hype this go-round. And while less foolishness online may be nice for players, I hope one day we can achieve "hype equality" - with dance-offs, professional biters, and memes heard 'round the world.

But here are 5 of my favorite articles online to help you learn more about the Women's World Cup regarding all the things except soccer.

Women's World Cup Uniforms Inspired by Disney

If you don't like the USWNT's jerseys pictured above, you are not alone. If you'd like to see jerseys inspired by Disney princesses, you are apparently not alone either.

Meet the HABS (and WAGS)! The husbands, boyfriends, and girlfriends cheering on the stars of the 2015 Women's World Cup

Obviously the first article I read about the Women's World Cup was about their families. I'm just interested.

FIFA Women's World Cup: Workout Hair Goals

Elle is here to help you diversify your "workout hair" with inspiration from the World Cup athletes. While I don't think I "workout" enough to warrant a pink mohawk, I haven't totally ruled it out yet.

Bless you, Panini, but you really screwed up some of these Women's World Cup stickers

I am on a sticker hiatus. Billy mentioned Panini stickers for the Copa America and the Women's World Cup. But no. I need four years to recover from last year. But if you are wielding sticker prowess this summer, you may enjoy this article on some of the sticker faux pas.

Nike unveils amazing 'American Woman' commercial for the Women's World Cup

The commercials are some of the best parts of sports. Check out Nike's ad for the Women's World Cup. I got a couple goose bumps! Wahoo for American women!
I hope you're watching and enjoying the Women's World Cup. Let me know in the comments who you're routing for! And, as always, feel free to share with me any hype that comes your way!

Celebrating Rockstar Couples for Loving Day {Part 2}

Today's Loving Day. It's been a fun week sharing daily posts on Instagram that depict ways our intercultural marriage has impacted our day-to-day life. I've also had the joy of collecting and reading these stories of beautiful families that have been formed thanks to the Lovings.

You can check out yesterday's post for more details on Loving Day and the first couples in this series.

Meet the Bacon-Lius

I am a biracial woman married to a Chinese-American man. One thing I've learned in the five years we've been together is that our different backgrounds have made our marriage stronger.

We have been able to learn so much from each other, and I've gained valuable perspectives from my husband. We don't believe in being "colorblind" when it comes to our relationship. Instead, we celebrate our heritages and are intentional about respecting each other's traditions and values.

There are times when our cross-cultural relationship has caused tension and miscommunication. But at the end of the day, we are still two married people trying to make it work like everyone else! Now that we have a son together, it is even more important that we instill pride in his rich cultural background.

The family I grew up in and the family I'm creating with my husband would not be possible without the courage of the Lovings! I'm so grateful for my family, and I owe the Lovings so much for how they paved the way for families that look like mine!

Connect with Alyssa: Blog | Twitter

Meet Michelle & Gerber

I'm from California, but I met Gerber while volunteering in Guatemala. He was working as our translator. We started dating and pretty comfortably moved between English and Spanish. We visited each other's families and began to dream about our life together. He proposed on the floor of my tiny apartment and then six months later, we repeated our vows behind the huge stone walls of Antigua, Guatemala.

I'm pretty sure all marriages have to unpack expectations. I just think intercultural marriages have a few extra things to sort through. The starting point is often so different.

It's like doing a complete home remodel with one set of plans in feet and the other in meters. Both sets of plans take accurate measurements, both sets of plans work, but they require a whole new way of communicating and thinking. In our experience, usually someone ends up converting their inches into centimeters or vise versa.

You also may decide that some rooms just can't be converted or explained, they just are. And usually, one person feels more comfortable initially moving between different systems. But hopefully, in the building process, you both learn and you both adapt. And if you're lucky, you begin to move seamlessly between the two worlds and cultures. You begin to have compassion, empathy, and a deep understanding for a whole new system.

And before you know it, you'll start talking about buying 6 inch-square tiles that are going in your 2 by 3 meter bathroom. Intercultural marriage, like any marriage, involves sacrifice, but it also offers the single greatest insight into understanding a culture different from the one you grew up in. I know I will most likely always feel more comfortable talking about inches and feet, but because of my insightful, dark-skinned, Guatemalan husband, I have learned a thing or two about meters and a whole new way to measure.

Connect with Michelle: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

Meet Rachel & Ebuka

My name is Rachel. I am from the United States. My husband is Ebuka. He is from Nigeria, but grew up in Mozambique. We have four languages heard regularly in our home: English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Igbo. We are the first in both our families to be a cross-cultural couple.

It has definitely had its challenges, but many more gifts. I am learning to cook like a "good Nigerian wife" (a joke we regularly make) and my husband has learned how to landscape and fix things in order to work side-by-side with my father and brothers.

My favorite thing has been learning something new every day. I love learning my husband's language. I love getting to know my in-laws (who refuse to even allow me to call them in-laws because "we're family and that's that"). I love that are children are surrounded by different languages, food, clothing, and traditions.

The best marriage advice we received was from my mentor, a Guatemalan married to a U.S. citizen. Give 100% to him and his culture, as well as teaching him 100% about yours. Together, you will create a beautiful culture that is unique from those you grew up with.

We met our first year in college, and we have been together ever since. We are now looking at moving abroad to work in international development.

Meet Victor & Lydia 

I'm Lydia, a 27-year old American married to a 28-year old Mexican named Victor. We met in 2012 while working in a restaurant together. Our friends thought we were an odd couple at first because I didn't speak any Spanish, and Victor was limited with his English. But we just took our Spanglish and never looked back!

We have been married for two years now. He is my perfect person. Our relationship mostly consists of us laughing at our differences, both language and culture. We have a one-year old daughter named Charlotte Graciela, and we speak English and Spanish equally to her.

It can be a challenge getting accustomed to doing everything differently: food, household chores, child rearing. But for me, the most difficult challenge is Christmas. My husband's family stays up late and parties all night, but my family likes to have a nice, early Christmas morning.

But the best thing is the laughing and learning. It's not easy learning a new language and culture, but when you have a partner that's equally invested and interested in your language and culture, it's so wonderful!

Connect with Lydia: Facebook | Instagram

Meet Sarah & Vaughn

Vaughn and I met in college during our freshman orientation weekend. We were friends for years - 11 years to be exact. I loved his sense of humor and quick smile. Life took us in different directions for awhile, and then it lead us back together.

I teach students English for a living, and I have loved traveling all my life. That love led me to Spanish and teaching newcomers as they transition to their lives in the U.S. One of my assignments for my first graders is to write a "how to" essay. So we picked something new to most of us - how to make a snowball.

Then, I showed them my friend Vaughn's picture. I explained about our first snowball fight and how Vaughn had lost to a... gasp... girl! The boys couldn't stand for that. So they'd write him with advice on how to pack the snow or to buy a snowball throwing machine. That year, he took extra offense when I asked for his address to mail the letters to him. The rest is history!

A quick 12 years later, we married, and life has never been the same. He's the best thing that ever happened to me. It's not always been easy - the distance when we started dating, applying for a fiance visa, Indiana's arctic winter, etc.

Through it all, marrying each other has made us both better people. I am thankful that I am allowed to marry my best friend. It has made my life so much richer, and I look forward to sharing the rest of life together.

Connect with Sarah: Email

It's been such a joy to share these stories of love and diversity and compromise and laughter. Shout out to the Lovings for their hard-earned verdict and the legalization of interracial marriages. We're so grateful!

Celebrating Rockstar Couples for Loving Day {Part 1}

Can you imagine being arrested for your marriage to someone of a different race? It's almost unimaginable for me to acknowledge that's what happened to Richard and Mildred Loving. She was a black woman and he a white man who married in Virginia in 1958. They were promptly arrested.

They plead guilty, agreed to leave the state, and then thankfully, they fought for their marriage in court. On June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court struck down all remaining anti-miscegenation laws (laws forbidding intimate relationships across race) in sixteen U.S. states.

Tomorrow is the 48th anniversary of this court decision. Thanks in part to Richard and Mildred's handy last name, we celebrate the verdict of Loving v Virginia with Loving Day each June 12.

This year, I asked this community to interracial, intercultural couples to share a photo and a brief introduction. I wanted to highlight these beautiful families as a tribute to the Lovings and their commitment to their marriage and to justice.

I received so many incredible submissions that I'm creating two posts. Read more stories!

Meet Jody & Rukshan

My husband, Rukshan, and I have been married for almost 15 years. He was raised in both the U.S. and Sri Lanka. I grew up in Indiana. We met in college and are now raising our two kids in California. I love how we teach each other. Together, our world view is larger than it would be if we weren't married cross-culturally because we bring two very different perspectives to the table.

Our biggest challenge as a couple is finding a home. We don't easily "fit" anywhere because who we are falls between worlds. We were told that intercultural marriages tend to thrive best in places where the couple is on neutral territory or in very cosmopolitan places where there are many cultures. Living in one person's home can make the marriage exist on unequal footing. While this isn't always true, after living on both coasts and in the middle of a cornfield, we'd strongly agree that neutral territory works best for our marriage.

Connect with Jody: Blog | Twitter

Meet Naomi & Rich

I (Naomi) grew up in Maine but have been drawn to Latin America since I was a teenager, so it was no surprise when I fell for a warm, fun-loving Latino in college. My (now) husband Rich was born and raised in the States, but he is deeply steeped in his Puerto Rican culture and heritage. There are certainly challenges that come with a cross-cultural marriage, but it is incredibly rich and constantly helps (or...pushes) us to examine things from another perspective.

While we were still in college, we traveled to the Dominican Republic with a humanitarian organization. In the process of mixing cement alongside the Dominicans to build latrines, we learned the word for "mixture" was "la mezcla." But, as it is with language, that word had multiple meanings, and the Dominicans told us that an interracial couple would also be called a "mezcla." We were a mezcla. I've alwakys held onto that, and it makes me smile because it feels like a simple description of what we are - a mixture.

Connect with Naomi: Blog | Twitter | Instagram (You gotta follow her on IG, she's an amazing photographer!)

Meet James & Cara

He's the son of a Civil Rights leader, formatively raised in the great state of Mississippi. He's experienced racism, simply and solely based on the color of his skin, and yearns for a world different from what he experienced as a child. She grew up in a small suburb in Oregon, where racial diversity was appreciated and sought after, but not known or felt within her community.

Eventually, both of us landing in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, and did our own thing for awhile before secretly deciding to try our hand at online dating. And Eharmony? It totally worked. So, let us introduce ourselves: we're James and Cara. We've been married for five years now, and have two "little caramels" (sons) whom we just think are the bee's knees. We live in Oakland, California, a town known for its unique appreciation and exhortation of diversity.

Just as we desire our children to grow up around people who look like mama and daddy, we want them to know that all humans have worth simply because of their stamp of humanity. In that way, we will keep fighting for ALL lives, for all voices, for all hearts. There's still so much we don't know and understand about our respective cultures, but we're committed to learning and listening so we might love each other - and each other's cultures - well.

Connect with Cara: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Meet Osheta & TC

We're TC and Osheta Moore. We've been married for nearly twelve years, and we have three beautiful kids. As an interracial couple, we've had some interesting conversations about role relations, systemic injustice, and the future we hope for our kids. We say often, that in our interracial marriage, we're writing new stories of gender roles, racial justice, and shalom.

Connect with Osheta: Blog | Twitter
Connect with TC: Blog | Twitter

Meet Carrie & Mardo

My husband Mardo and I have been married for a little over four years. Mardo and I first met at church when I moved to Guatemala to teach at a private school in the town where he lived. After many months, thousands of emails, and lots of hang outs, he asked me to be his "novia" and the rest is history. We were married in Guatemala, and about two years later, we welcomed our son Micah into our family.

Connect with Carrie: Blog | Instagram

Meet even more rockstar couples in this post!

Conversations at Casa Quezada

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across the blog Latinaish, and it quickly became one of my favorites. I got a big kick out of their love story and laughed along with Tracy's humorous insights into bicultural, Spanglish life.

She has a series on her blog, where she highlights the funny conversations that take place in her bilingual house. You can check out some of those here and here.

Today, she's let me join in the fun on Latinaish with Conversations at Casa Quezada. I'm sharing some of our favorite Spanglish-y moments with gems like:

Billy: (hanging pictures) Does it look straight?

Me: Hmm... I'm not sure. Are we sure we want them there? Maybe a little higher?

Billy: (handing me a hammer and some nails) Go kill yourself?

Me: Um... What?

Billy: It's an expression. You know...

[long pause]

Me: Oooh, knock yourself out!

To read the rest of our ridiculous, bicultural conversations (including some classic lines from Gabriella), click on over to Latinaish!

Pitch Perfect: Sí or No?

The first Pitch Perfect was a treat. A somewhat surprise hit, it garnered a dedicated following in niche groups. I happen to fall into the subgroup of women in their 20's and 30's who dig acapella, and I am a fan.

So I was pretty stoked about the sequel. Of course, my expectations for sequels are always tempered because you can't always recreate a good thing. And then I was forewarned about a new, Guatemalan character who may have been, let's say, handled in an indelicate way.

I watched Pitch Perfect and came away with some conflicted feelings. I was prepared to be offended, but I'm still not sure if I was. But I still wasn't okay with everything. I'm telling you, conflicted.

So I watched it again, had a couple conversations with others, and here's a breakdown of my take on Pitch Perfect and the Guatemalan character Flo.

The Pitch Perfect franchise is inappropriate.

That's their thing, right? All the jokes are borderline offensive, and the writers seemed to work hard to insult everyone - from race to religion to weight to gender to sexual orientation to hair color. In fact, I think they tried to protect themselves from being called racist, sexist, nationalist, you-name-it-ist by taking shots at everyone. Some of the jokes were funny, but some were just plain awkward and fell flat.

That said, what are your options?

So if Pitch Perfect is a movie that makes inappropriate jokes, what options are available to you for a Latina character? The way I see it, you could not have one. That's the choice they made for the first film. But that's a bummer.

The second option is to have a Latina and not make inappropriate jokes about her ethnicity, which I have to say, would have been awkward on a different level. The third, in my opinion, would be to balance her character with a little more finesse and nuance.

Because no one likes to laugh at the little guys.

Not saying Flo is Tiny Tim, but her lines almost entirely focused on human trafficking, illegal immigration, and abject poverty. (I can only think of one time she mentioned anything else.)

Her jokes were aimed at some of the world's most vulnerable people, and (rightly so) we feel uncomfortable laughing at them.

And then there's Paul from the Bible.

No, this is not a Jesus juke. And no, I'm not so spiritual that I'm in the theater reflecting on the epistles. Here's what I'm saying, and I'm about to share some details, so if you're a total purist, here's your spoiler-ish alert.

As the girls discuss their post-graduation plans, Flo stands up. She announces that after graduation (from college), she is likely to be deported. Then, she follows up with comments about trying to return to the States and how she will probably die at sea.

Now the second time I saw the movie, people laughed. And I know because I was paying attention. But the first time I saw it, I'm pretty sure no one really laughed. It was more of a collective gasp. And there's a part of me that doesn't care if the joke was funny or not, or offensive or not, because it's another opportunity to remind the masses that deportation is a real struggle that many young adults are facing. (Do you see the Paul connection now?)

Cuban actress Chrissie Fit, who plays Flo, talks a little bit about that approach in this interview. She notes that none of the other girls every make fun of Flo - that she is making the jokes. And even a lot of her lines about poverty are in response to other characters making a big deal out of essentially trivial matters. Again, I'm conflicted.

What I wish would've happened. 

I wish Flo's character had been given a bit more depth and nuance. It would have been nice to see her have a role that was more than just delivering one-liners about kidnapping, malaria, and deportation. Pitch Perfect makes fun of Anna Kendrick being short, but that's only one aspect of her character.

Even Flo's role as a singer is underwhelming. There's no explanation where she came from or why she's a new addition to the Bellas. And her voice and skills are never explicitly highlighted or mentioned, though we do see her bust out some impressive flips. Personally, I think a little more from Flo could have couched her references to pain and suffering in a more sophisticated way.

So these are my in-progress thoughts, and I'm interested in your take, too. I'm still hovering in the conflicted zone. Although there's one thing I can say for sure about Pitch Perfect 2. The music (except maybe that flashlight song) was on fleek. (Am I using that right???

It Takes More Than Us Two to Tango

I was curling my hair and dressed in skinny jeans. The babysitter was on her way, and I looked over at Billy. "Wait. You're wearing WIND PANTS?"

"What you are wearing?" he asked incredulously. "This is a tango class at the YMCA. It's a gym."

I love to dance. It's one of my favorite things in the whole world. The husband... not so much. I know, I know. We defy the stereotypes.

But Billy is a good sport, and he will occasionally take me dancing because he knows how much I enjoy it. I do the World Cup, and also once every four years, we dance.

Only this time, the dance class was at the YMCA. I didn't think that was a big deal. But, as it turns around, this setting presented us with a significant wardrobe dilemma. Because seriously, what do you wear to a tango workshop at a YMCA?!

So I settled on yoga pants, a layered top, and big earrings. In my book, you can absolutely never go wrong with giant earrings. However, you can (and I did) go wrong with tennis shoes. I knew it would be a problem, but what else can you wear with yoga pants?

The experience was everything I hoped and dreamed.

The instructors (I'll call them Sherry and Charles) gave us some directions, and we were off - walking in a circle! Billy was pushing me backwards and making the most hilarious facial expressions (on purpose? I'm not sure) that I could not stop laughing. Since I have a very hard time walking and laughing at the same time, things started to unravel.

Next, they decided to teach us "the rock step." Billy's ears perked up. "This is not what you think," I told him. Yeah, I'm not exactly sure what a "hard-core rocker step" in tango would look like exactly, but this was seriously just rocking back and forth. The pause button, if you will.

I should mention that the instructors keep calling out one student for critique: Billy. I honestly thought he and we were doing fine. I mean, it was basically glide-walking. Did Billy pick up his feet? Yes. Did he master the "cat-like" movement Charles kept referencing? No. Was I shaking with laughter and trying not to make any noise? Yes.

One of the challenges for Billy and the other guys was Charles himself. Though we studied his feet, Charles was really shuffling in no discernible pattern while seemingly holding onto his partner for support. Yet he kept calling Billy out. MORE THAN ONCE, he pulled Billy away from me to dance with him. In fact, we were the only couple he cut it on, and he danced with Billy more than me.

Billy came away wondering what he was supposed to learn from those private lessons since Charles continued dancing the male part and sort of hassled Billy for messing up the woman's part. It was a bit tricky, and we had divided by genders to learn it actually, so I just tried to discreetly wipe my tears and stop laughing.

When we were practicing a little more complicated, 8-count move, all the guys were really struggling. The instructors would demonstrate, but Charles was hard to follow and he seemed to change his mind a couple times mid-move. Finally, Sherry offered to demonstrate the male part to all the guys. This was not appreciated.

She finished showing them, and I heard Charles ask her, "Was that any different than what I did?" I was standing close enough to hear and also too close to burst into laughter because... yes. It was very different.

But she maintained her cool and said, "Oh, no. I was just showing them again."

He responded, "These guys just don't know how to dance. They have no experience! They are first-timers!"

I think I did start laughing at that point because... dude, we are at a YMCA doing a one-hour tango workshop. Adjust your expectations.

But all my expectations were met. It was foolish, and it was awesome. And we had so much fun. In fact, when the instructors reminded everyone about a follow-up class on Saturday, I looked at Billy. His face said it all. Maybe in another four years!

Photo credit: Patrick McDonald (I know... you thought those were my legs.)
A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.