A Few of My Favorite Things {November 2015}

The holidays have begun. In fact, one day in November I was swept over by the spirit of Christmas, and I purchased almost all my gifts in 24 hours. I also ordered our Christmas cards during this gift-buying extravaganza. I was literally using a Veteran's Day coupon. Weird.

For an indecisive person like myself, though, I felt so empowered and alive. So I'm trying on a new persona that makes quick decisions and simply goes with it.

But this post is about November, not Christmas. So let's dive in! Decision made.

Favorite Road Trip

We were so pumped to visit Memphis for the CCDA Conference. Billy at first questioned my hotel booking skills when we arrived to a green swimming pool (check it out in the background) and this amazing view from our hotel window.

But all was well. And we had a blast seeing friends, listening to some amazing speakers (I was so delighted to hear Christena Cleveland!), eating yummy food, and listening to live music. Oh, and we led a workshop on multicultural marriage that I almost missed because I was with our co-presenter David many blocks away mere minutes before it was supposed to start. But we made it - only a little disheveled - and I'm so glad. You can read some of my takeaways from the time together here.

Side note: Favorite thing I learned about road tripping? You can listen to comedians on Pandora! So continuing our comedy theme from October, we cued up a few stations for our late night drive home. It plays in 6-8 minute snippets, so it was easier to stay awake when we were laughing. We particularly enjoyed the Jim Gaffigan station. But fair warning, it shuffles through comedians, so not all tracks are family-friendly.

Favorite Facebook Convo

Speaking of comedians, Cristela is now on Netflix.

I was delighted to share this news on my Facebook page because I feel a commitment to help people watch more TV... apparently. But several folks have messaged me that I got them into Jane the Virgin, so this Facebook convo steered itself towards me appearing on the show... naturally.

Favorite Instagram

I'm doing two Instas again this month because first of all... this.

A photo posted by Sarah Quezada (@sarahquezada) on

And secondly, it's not every month that we find ourselves outfitted in mobster costumes. Please note Billy's cardboard guns that he had our four year old color for him. He didn't tell her what they were exactly, so we just kept saying "part of Papi's costume." She was thrilled.

A photo posted by Sarah Quezada (@sarahquezada) on

Favorite App (aka Favorite Podcasts)

Okay, so here's the thing. People have been telling me to listen to podcasts for probably a year. Everyone's like, "You will love Serial. You will love podcasts." And for some reason, I nodded, I smiled, and I never pursued them. Partly because I work from home. I think commuting lends itself to podcasts more easily.

But a combination of a dear friend proselytizing me and another friend trying to convince me to create a podcast, and I downloaded Podcast Addict. Aaaaand now I'm all in. Well, I listened to two in one day. I'm still trying to figure out how to fit them in since my kids don't love it when I walk around in headphones, not hearing when they are (yet again) asking for snacks.

I listened to this interview with Father Gregory Boyle, which was so encouraging and fun and inspiring. I liked it so much, in fact, I downloaded his book on Audible because he reads it himself. (If you want to listen to it, you can click here for a free Audible trial that includes two free books!) I also tried out The Popcast because I like some good banter on holidays and The Mindy Project and what not.

So I guess I'm saying... give podcasts a shot. You just might like 'em!

Favorite Book

I am having a weird reading relationship with Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She is saying stuff about creativity that I haven't necessarily heard anyone say before but that is resonating deeply with me. I'm actually reading it slowly because I don't want to miss anything, and I don't want to finish the book. Also, it's been stirring up all these ideas and thoughts in my heart I've been unable to articulate. So I'm having to stop and think.

I've recommended Big Magic to several creative people I know, and I encourage you to check it out as well. I'd be interested to hear what others think. (For the record - this always seems to come up - I wasn't a huge fan of Eat, Pray, Love. So don't let that book push you or keep you away from this one. It's really different. But it's interesting to hear her talk about the commercial success of that memoir.)

Favorite Posts

Finally, here are November's popular posts on A Life with Subtitles:

[Free Download] The 2015 Global Gift Guide - Some of our favorite multicultural gifts and reader recommendations. Books, toys, clothes, games, and more!

58 Thoughts You Have While Trying To Take A Baby Passport Photo - If you've ever given this a shot, you may be able to relate!

What I Learned Teaching on Multicultural Marriage - 3 things I learned about folks who marry across cultures.

Thanks to Leigh Kramer who hosts this monthly link-up. What were some of your favorite things in November?

The Double Click: Parenting Advice, Gangs and Kinship, Spanish Texting, and More

Sometimes time zones, laundry, and the algorithms of Facebook mean we miss each other online. So I'm sharing my recent, favorite links for you to read when you get a chance.

Here's some fun articles to make you laugh and make you think. This week, we've got touching stories with airport strangers and Japanese fathers-in-law, pithy parenting wisdom, gangs and kinship, and tricks to text in Spanish.

Gate A-4 || Live & Learn

"We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours."

My Father-In-Law Made Me The Mother I Am || Brain, Child

"I may have loved my father-in-law, but I was terrified of having his grandchildren—or any child, for that matter. Not because of who or how Otosan was, but simply because having children is terrifying if you go into it with eyes-wide-open. At age 40, the year Toru and I wed, my eyes were pretty wide open."

Winners: The Best Parenting Advice In Six Words || The New York Times Motherlode

"Someday they'll grow a frontal lobe."

"What doesn't kill you - tries to."

"Pay attention, but not too much."

The Calling of Delight: Gangs, Service, and Kinship || On Being

"A Jesuit priest famous for his gang intervention programs in Los Angeles, Fr. Greg Boyle makes winsome connections between service and delight, and compassion and awe. He heads Homeboy Industries, which employs former gang members in a constellation of businesses. This is not work of helping, he says, but of finding kinship. The point of Christian service, as he lives it, is about 'our common calling to delight in one another.'"

Spanish "Netspeak" || Latinaish

"Learning a second language in the days before the internet was probably more straightforward. You learned how to speak, understand, read, and write it. Aside from the standard vocabulary, you may also have learned some slang. However in the age of chat, text, and social media you must also learn the “netspeak” or “chat language” of your second language."

5 (More) Spanish Cartoons on Netflix

5 Spanish Cartoons on Netflix from A Life with Subtitles

It's Thanksgiving week. Here, that means no school for the entire week. (Wha??? I do not remember that happening when I was a kid.)

And no school often means more TV. For us, I mean. I'm sure that's not the case everywhere. I mean, I want to be a Pinteresting mom, but I'm often more of a frozen-pizza-and-Netflix kind of mom.

But hey, TV can be educational, right? And for those of us raising bilingual kids, it's the perfect opportunity to up that second language exposure.

Netflix doesn't make it easy to find its Spanish-language shows, though I am learning some tricks. Disney programs (not Disney Jr.) and Netflix Originals are more likely to be multi-language than others. Sadly, I have yet to find a PBS show in Spanish.

But I've compiled several lists of Netflix options, and here are five cartoons to check out:

#1 - Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Bitty Adventures

My daughter is big into this one right now. Interestingly, plain 'ole Strawberry Shortcake (also on Netflix) is English-only, so you have to go with the Berry Bitty Adventures version. 

#2 - Masha and the Bear

Truth be told, this series doesn't have much dialogue at all. But for some reason, my kids (4 and 2) LOVE it. It's available in English, Spanish, Russian, and French, so it's a multilingual dream come true!

#3 - Inspector Gadget

I loved Inspector Gadget as a kid, so I was excited to see this Netflix Original cartoon pop up. It's a touch old for my kiddos, but I'm sure we'll watch it more in the future as it's geared towards the 5-7 age category.  

#4 - Justin Time

This is new one for us. I'm always on the lookout for fresh shows, though, because I find it's easier to introduce a cartoon in Spanish than to convince my kids to switch over from English on their favorites. Once they discover it's also available in English... game over.  

#5 - The Gruffalo

A reader recommended this short film and it's companion, The Gruffalo's Child. I'm always interested to hear about your bilingual finds, so feel free to share in the comments!

How to Watch Spanish Cartoons on Netflix

Switching your shows to Spanish is a different process depending on your device (Roku, FireStick, AppleTV, online, etc).

To get started, select the program you want to watch. To my knowledge (or at least on the devices I have), there is no way to switch the audio settings on your overall system. I tried that once, and it just changes the languages of the menu, profile, etc. It doesn't affect audio on the shows.

After you choose your movie or show, find the menu "Audio & Subtitles." On our Roku, it's listed in the menu once you select the show. Online, though, I have to actually start the program first and then select the speech bubble from the pop-up menu.

Once you find that menu, though, you're good to go. Just select your language and let the bilingual screen time begin!

How do you get your kids to watch bilingual cartoons? Other Netflix recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

What I Learned Teaching On Multicultural Marriage

Here's the thing about marriage: no one is an expert.

At least, I can't imagine ever calling myself an expert on this crazy ride that is trying to do life with another person. On top of just the regular give and take of relationships, we've got cross-cultural communication, expectations, and differences to layer on top. Like a delicious tiramisu.

Last week Billy and I attended the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) Conference in Memphis. CCDA is a gathering of folks committed to people on the margins and community transformation. Attendees travel from all over the U.S. (and internationally) to learn about justice issues, reconciliation, practical ministry insights, soul care, and community development best practices.

We led a workshop on multicultural families with our friend David, who is Korean-American and his wife is Indian-American (South Asian). It was so. much. fun. I can't even tell you. I am constantly struck by how much I enjoy meeting and hearing from other cross-cultural couples. (Super cool party people in the hiz-ouse!)

Can I just say that we're a fun group of people? And actually, that's kind of true. I learned a couple things through our research for the presentation and our conversations that really stuck out to me. Here's 3 of my takeaways.

#1 We're an adventurous crew.

Billy really jumped on this one, reminding everyone no matter how boring your marriage is now, you were originally excited about the differences and the excitement of joining in with a new culture. I kept asking him to revise the part where he said, "I GUARANTEE it'll lose some of that original thrill," but he said it anyway. Ha!

But it is interesting that people who enter cross-cultural marriages tend to be open to new experiences and a little risk. I'm not going sky-diving or anything, but it's helpful to remember that we share that desire for adventure.

#2 Self-reflection is a valuable skill.

David noted that in much of his research there was a theme about the importance of self-reflection. Of course, being able to assess your background, perspective, and influences is helpful in any marriage. But there was a particular emphasis that cross-cultural marriage will be significantly more challenging if you struggle to self-reflect.

I love to over-analyze, so this seems right in my own wheelhouse. But I actually really like this quality being named because I think it helps to identify what's needed in particular marriage moments. Sometimes a call to step back and evaluate can be game changing.

#3 We can't stop laughing.

This workshop was filled with non-stop laughter. It helped that David and Billy are two of the funniest people I know and someone gave them a microphone. But I'm not even joking when I say that there was so much fun and laughter in the workshop, and I was reminded of a book I read that listed "10 Factors for a Successful Intercultural Marriage." Humor was #10.

At the end of the workshop, an attendee pointed out how much we'd all laughed. He gestured towards our slide presentation and said, "My wife and I have cried together over every topic you all brought up. It was really good to be with people who understand and we can all laugh about these things together."

I was so grateful for the opportunity to attend CCDA and connect with other multicultural couples and families. There was definitely a desire among the group to stay connected, so the three of us are currently brainstorming some ideas to continue conversations and laughter among multicultural families. Stay tuned!

What do you think? Do these characteristics sound familiar or not so much?

My Thanksgiving Epiphany

We have always been terrible at planning for the holidays. For whatever reason, our fall calendar each year tends to have a few trips scheduled. This timing leaves us feeling a little like homebodies by the holidays.

Sometimes our lack of plans means we do practically nothing, especially on Thanksgiving. In fact, we've had a few Thanksgivings where our plans were minimal at best. And then the day comes, and I feel sad.

Because I grew up with Thanksgiving song books and pumpkin pie and often, skits. Because no family gathering is complete without performances, right? RIGHT? Are you telling me Billy is correct and that all families don't do this???

But here we are. Approaching our 9th holiday season together. And I've had an epiphany about Thanksgiving.

Here it is. You're going to be shocked.

Billy did not grow up celebrating Thanksgiving.

I know. It's mind-boggling. Turns out the whole pilgrims, Mayflower, New England celebration is not very big outside the U.S. But it seriously has taken me nine years to realize that this is why he rarely feels like we need plans. This is why he thinks staying at home alone and chilling is acceptable.

This year, I straight up told him: "Thanksgiving is a thing."

I realize this all may sound ridiculous, but it really has changed my outlook on the whole season. I finally recognized that he does not associate warmth and tradition and delicious food with the fourth Thursday in November the way I do. So if it's important to me, I will need to take the lead on how we will celebrate.

That doesn't actually mean we've done any better this year about making plans, but I've seriously been thinking about it. Ha! Because Thanksgiving is a thing, ya'll!

The Double Click || Nov 14, 2015

Sometimes time zones, laundry, and the algorithms of Facebook mean we miss each other online. So I'm sharing my recent, favorite links for you to read when you get a chance.

Here's some fun articles to make you laugh and make you think. This week, we're talking Dia de los Muertos, most awkward moments (hysterical - I mean, you will have to take a break while reading), adult friendships in today's modern world, soccer balls that light up your house, and modern day questionable ironies.

Dia De Los Muertos: What Guatemala Has Taught Me About Death and Grieving || Simply Complicated

"There is such beauty in remembering because it gives permission to grieve. For some, grief is a very private thing, but in Guatemala, grief is something that is shared. There is often something powerful about making it public, about letting others share in your pain and in your memories.

How Our Housing Choices Make Adult Friendships More Difficult || Vox 

"Point being, each of us living in our own separate nuclear-family castles, with our own little faux-estate lawns, getting in a car to go anywhere, never seeing friends unless we make an effort to schedule it - there's nothing fated or inevitable about it."

And then that one time on twitter we all just became human and I laughed until I gave myself a headache || The Bloggess

"Someone had the wrong number and dialed me on accident. I asked if I could take a message..."

"A friend thanked me for coming to their husband's funeral. My reply? 'Anytime.'"

"My mom once told someone who'd asked her if she could borrow a magazine 'Sure. Go to hell'... 'go ahead' + 'help yourself'"

"Went out to eat and the greeter said would you like to eat inside or outside. My wife's response? 'Eat.'"

Soccket Video || Fast Company

"Soccket is a soccer ball that, when kicked around, stores energy that can power small appliances in underdeveloped villages."

Alanis Morissette has updated her hit 'Ironic' for this horrible modern age || some entertainment

"So many websites and apps got name-dropped in that. Netflix, Amazon, Snapchat, Uber. Remember simpler times, when dying in a plane crash on your very first flight was all you had to do to be totally full of irony?"

5 Gifts for Multicultural Kids

5 Gifts for Multicultural Kids || A Life with Subtitles

All the year, we are seeking ways to raise bilingual and multicultural kids. We bribe them to speak Spanish and we set them in front of Spanish-speaking cartoons. (I'm basically an A+ educator!)

So when we buy books and toys and gifts for our kids, we also hope to encourage their language and cultural fluency. To that end, here are 5 multicultural gifts for kids you may enjoy:

#1 - Ellie Elote

You can see our "I Love My Papi" shirt pictured above. I just love this one! It took us a while to settle on a name for dad, so it's sweet to see it represented in her closet. Also, I think this one is so clever!

#2 - Everybody Cooks Rice

Jody recommended this book to me, and I love the story idea! A young girl walking through her neighborhood at dinnertime is introduced to both the diversity of her neighborhood and the commonality of rice in all the cultures she encounters.

#3 - Our Generation Dolls

My own daughter has not yet graduated to these types of dolls, but I love the diverse look of Target's Our Generation Dolls. If you're searching for a unique gift for the doll-lover in your life, check them out here.

#4 - Guatemala ABC's

We have loved this book and the way it shares snippets of Guatemalan culture to correspond with each letter of the alphabet. This book is part of a series and you can find them for many other countries as well. Here's Mexico, New Zealand, Brazil, and Canada, for example.

#5 - Where In the U.S. Is Carmen Sandiego?

Remember "Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego?" Oh man. I loved that show. I may or may not have applied to be on it only to receive a generic postcard that read, "We're no longer filming this show. You are watching reruns." Boo. But I don't hold a grudge, and this game seems like a good time!

These are five multicultural gift ideas for kiddos. For more ideas (more than 95, in fact), download my Global Gift Guide for the holiday season. It's packed full of our favorites, as well as reader recommendations. From infants to adults, there's a little something for everyone! Download your free copy below.

58 Thoughts You Have While Trying To Take A Baby Passport Photo

  1. Hi, teenage employee at the drugstore. Can I call you Toby? We need a passport photo!
  2. How long is this going to take?
  3. Oh man, they have to be awake?
  4. So awake, but not crying or hungry?
  5. Please, if you know how to make that happen, Toby. Fill me in.
  6. Okay baby, wake up now, honey.
  7. I can't believe i'm doing this.
  8. I spend most of my life now trying to get this kid to sleep.
  9. Now I'm waking him up?
  10. Hello, sugar! Yes, there's those beautiful eyes!
  11. Okay, Toby. Take the picture! Take the picture!
  12. What do you mean something's wrong with the camera?
  13. It'll just be a minute? Do you know how much could go wrong in a minute?
  14. I hope he's not hungry.
  15. Oh, precious baby yawn!
  16. Uh-oh. He's getting squirmy
  17. Do I even have what i need to feed him or is everything in the car?
  18. Oh, please don't be hungry, bud. Just hang on for your photo shoot!
  19. This teenage boy is working a moderate pace and will one day have this camera fixed.
  20. Oh thank goodness. He got it!
  21. So I can't be anywhere in the picture? Like nowhere?
  22. So I guess I just hold him above my head or...?
  23. Ah, yes. Lie him on the floor. Point for the teenage boy!
  24. Oh, honey. don't cry. don't cry. We need your eyes open!
  25. I mean, also don't cry because everything's okay.
  26. But seriously, we need your eyes open.
  27. Okay, don't turn your head to the side, hon.
  28. You have to look directly at the camera. Think mug shot. 
  29. Baby! Yoooo-hoooo. Look over here.
  30. Okay, let's get those hands out of your mouth.
  31. Baby! Look at the camera.
  32. Wait. Is he falling back asleep? Should I bang a tambourine? 
  33. Alright, I know you're staring up at the brightly lit ceiling, but I'm going to need you to open your eyes!
  34. Oh great. Now the head's turned again.
  35. Why do I feel like I'm on some weird, family Minute-to-win-it game?
  36. Look at Mommy! LOOK at Mommy!
  37. Wait. Is he about to roll over for the first time? While on this mat? With a teenage boy hovering above with a camera?
  38. Awh, that's so cool.
  39. But no.
  40. Really, baby. Let's get it together!
  41. Okay, don't cry. I'm not pinning you down. 
  42. I'm going to hold you just a little bit. Camera won't even notice me.
  43. I just need you to look up in a "full-face view, looking directly at the camera with eyes open."
  44. Is that TOO MUCH TO ASK????
  45. Okay, yes. It's kinda too much to ask.
  46. But if you ever want to see your grandparents, you will do it.
  47. Okay, I'm sorry. That sounded threatening.
  48. Just please, baby. I'm literally on my knees now. 
  49. Please, please, please, look up at the strange boy with the camera.
  50. Ah-ha! He did it!
  51. Did you get that, Toby? Did ya?
  52. Please tell me you did or I'm collapsing on this mat.
  53. You did? Hooray!
  54. Does it matter that his hand is in the frame like that?
  55. You don't think so?
  56. Then neither do I!
  57. We did it!
  58. Should I hug you or would that be... okay, yeah, we don't have to do that.

[Free Download] The 2015 Global Gift Guide

Shopping during the holidays can be one of the most fun or frustrating experiences, depending on your preferences. Personally, I love to stay up late and participate in the Black Friday mayhem, but not really buy anything. I'm too indecisive for flash sales, but I love the hype!

The 2015 Global Gift Guide from A Life with Subtitles - 95+ multicultural gift ideas for kids, travelers, culture lovers, and more!

This year, with the help of readers and friends, I'm excited to share the 2015 Global Gift Guide with favorite multicultural products. Inside, you'll find more than 95 multicultural gift ideas. Here's a few examples:

     * Unique, bilingual clothing for kids
     * Experience-based gifts for culture lovers
     * Fun, Etsy prints for the home
     * Diverse books for young readers to adults
     * and more!

Get your free 2015 Global Gift Guide when you join my mailing list! 

When He Is Away On Our Anniversary

Today is my anniversary. Eight years Billy and I have been figuring out how to be a family together, and I can't decide if that feels like a long time or the blink of an eye.

Billy is out of town again this year - as he has been for the last three anniversaries - due to an annual work trip. That's cool with me. And he took Gabriella with him, so maybe time at home alone with just the two year old is the best gift a mom can get!

But having a day to reflect on your marriage when your husband has been gone for a week reminds me of the things I miss when he's away. So here's a few things that have come up while it's just me and the little guy.

Who goes into that creepy crawl space?

Isaac started climbing out of his crib a couple weeks ago. You can imagine my excitement [insert sarcasm]. But for his safety, I figured it's time to move to a toddler bed. Only I have no idea where it is.When I asked Billy, I heard the fated words: "crawl space." Well, I immediately tossed that plan.

I've heard there is a storage area underneath our house. In the six years we've lived here, I have actually never been inside, nor do I know where "we" store the key. Thankfully, I had stashed the toddler mattress inside the house, so Isaac now sleeps on a mattress on the floor. Perfect.

Who will listen to my random musings?

Billy doesn't have consistent internet while he's away, so I've been making lists of things to ask him or tell him when we do get a chance to chat. He encouraged me to go ahead and vox whenever I need something because he can catch up later when he has access.

I think he now regrets telling me that.

Now, whenever I have a thought or a question, I just vox away! Some things, of course, I actually need to tell him. But I'm also just used to having him to talk to. It's weird and lonely without him here to ask important questions like "Have you seen Isaac's drum anywhere? Because our entire Halloween costume was built around that drum and now it is missing in action!"

Who will decide if our kids are sick?

I have never been able to operate a thermometer. Even for myself. They always mysteriously break, and I have decided I have a chemical force field inside that destroys them.

Add to that all the convoluted ways you are supposed to take a child's temperature... I cannot master the forehead swipe or that crazy ear thing. And then I break the thermometer. So temperatures are Billy's department.

I was reminded of this as I tried to get Isaac to hold it under his tongue this week when his head scorched me at night. When the reading came back at 103, I freaked out. Which is also usually Billy's role. He always first thinks the temperatures are in Celsius. So he screams, then does some quick mental math, then asks me if we should be concerned.

Who will make me laugh with cultural ridiculousness?

This is a screen shot of our anniversary morning conversation. First, Billy said how glad he was to have been married to me for 8 years. Then, I said "ditto." And it basically sums up our crazy, bilingual marriage. I miss these moments when he's gone.

What do you miss about your spouse when they are gone? 
A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.