Repost: Making the most of summer, using Google Calendars.

Since Memorial Day has passed and it is officially Summer, I wanted to share a post I originally published last year on Teatime Thoughts. Read through the tutorial and then get out there and make the best of your summer!

So here it is: Making the Most of Summer, Using Google Calendars.

Having grown up in New England and now living in Chicago, I always try to make the absolute most out of the short summers I have. When I moved here a few years ago, I was so thrilled to hear about all the outdoor festivals, movie showings and concerts that this city has to offer in the summer.

Each year in May, I make lists of summer-musts. Those wonderful events and experiences that make summer feel like summer. You know: eating outdoors, summer concerts, BBQs, baseball games, going for ice cream, walks along the lake, etc.

Unfortunately, summers in Chicago always pass much quicker than I ever expect. Life gets crazy busy and the next thing I know it's Labor Day and I haven't gotten through even half of the list.

So in hopes of squeezing in more summer, I decided to take our list of Summer-Musts one step further: I turned it into a Google Calendar. It was simple to create and even easier to share with friends! With their help researching and adding a few events, my friends and I quickly had a calendar full of summer-musts to choose from.

To make a Google Calendar, you need a google account. Then simply:
1) Sign into your google account and click on "Calendar" or just click here.
2) Create a new calendar by clicking on the little arrow next to "My Calendars" and then clicking on "Create new calendar".

3) Give your calendar a name.
4) Share the calendar with your friends by adding their e-mail addresses. You can then give them permission to make changes to events, to add events and to share with others under "Permission Settings." Once all your friends are entered, click "Create Calendar" at the top of the screen.
5) Once your calendar is set-up, all you need to do is add events. To do so, simply double click on the date you want to add an event to. Then enter in all the details. I like to provide a website in the description box so that if anyone has questions about the event, they can go to the original source. This cuts down on confusion. When you finish, be sure to hit save!
6) Keep adding events until your calendar is full of all the summer essentials.
7) Admire your calendar and get excited about your summer!!

The best part of this is that all your friends can contribute and as they input events, your calendar will automatically be updated! So as the summer goes on and you hear about more concerts, movies, BBQs and parties, just add them to the calendar to let everyone know. Lots of websites have integrated a one-click "Add to Google Calendar" option, making this even easier. It fills in all the information for you! For Chicagoans, check out Choose Chicago to find events in the city and to easily add them to your calendar.

I hope this helps you get organized, stay connected with friends and make the most out of Summer 2013!

I love this family.

I couldn't blog for fear of revealing secrets. But since those secrets are no longer secrets, here I am. Blogging. My aunt turned 50 this past weekend. That wasn't the secret. Through some unexpected and very, very appreciated generosity, I was able to fly out East for the party. I was so excited to spend some time with family and to celebrate my aunt who I am quite close with. 

Since I was invited and flown out, I wanted to contribute something to the party. So I brought what I do best: a photobooth. Oh and it was so good. My cousin went a bit shutter happy, what with the remote and all, and was able to capture some absolutely fabulous family moments. I just know these are photos that we will carry with us for years, reminding us how incredibly lucky we are to have each other.








We are a family who enjoy each other. And for that, I am so thankful. 


A dollar a balloon? Don't mind if I do.

This weekend came with some struggles. Hard conversations, some tears, and airing out of frustrations. Both Adrian and I have been working long hours lately and wondering at times where that money has gone. Answer: college loans, car payments, rent, city living, medical expenses, etc, etc. Being an adult is difficult, yes? Earlier in my life two cardigans from Target for $30 was a no-brainer. Not so much anymore. Life goals, savings, simpler living. I know one day, I'll be proud of us for having been young and in love and broke and for having made it through. In the mean time, it's a little rough.



All that is to say, if ever there was a weekend for the helium shortage in Chicago to end, this was that weekend. When times get tough, buy heart and star shaped balloons. I always say. 

Oh, you didn't know there was a helium shortage in Chicago? My good friend Meredith and I have been researching for her upcoming birthday party. Because a birthday party isn't a birthday party without balloons. And sadly, we had been informed time and again that helium was unavailable.

Until now.

So for a dollar a balloon? I bought four. Three hearts. One star. For research purposes, of course. And also because I love them.

Do yourself a favor: buy a balloon for a dollar. I promise it'll make your day.

Presence.

I have never been much of an activist. I'm not much for yelling. Or creating catchy phrases. Or standing and holding signs. While I often feel passionately about one topic or another, I've refrained from participating in marches, demonstrations and rallies, always under the notion that surely plenty of others would be there and would be passionate enough for the two of us. Besides, there was work. Or sleep. Or whatever other excuse I could conjure that would allow me to politely decline any invitation to join the cause.

And then a bill on comprehensive immigration reform was introduced.

My old bag of excuses simply drifted away. I wanted to participate in any way I could. In my willingness, I began to realize that it wasn't so much my voice or my catchy phrase or my sign that was needed. Just my presence. I didn't need to be particularly loud about my support. I just needed to be there. To be counted.

Through out American history, people have demonstrated and rallied and marched to say that something just wasn't right in this country. That people were hurting. That systems were unjust. And that it wasn't okay. It is one of the many luxuries of this country that I have long taken for granted. This idea that if we don't like something, we have the right, the freedom, to go out there and say something  about it. Without fear. Can I say that again? Without fear. 

I have this theory, that immigration reform is going to be one of those key issues that my (future) children will study in school one day. They'll learn the different sides of the issue. They'll read about what the opponents said and what those in favor argued. And they'll make their own decision. 

And I hope they'll ask me about it. Because when they do, I'll share stories about how I was there. In Chicago. In the absolute heart of the Mexican immigrant community. And I'll tell them about how I talked to anyone who would listen about how unjust the then-current system was and how it tore families apart. And how I went to the rallies and demonstrations. I didn't yell much. But I was there. Because that's what mattered most. My presence. I'll tell them what I told my students and friends and family: Those immigration laws certainly weren't going to reform themselves. And so being there became a necessity.

And I'll tell them that if they want something to change, they have to be there. They have to be counted. They have to stand in solidarity with those most effected. Change doesn't happen with one person standing alone begging for it. It happens when groups of people come together and persist.

Adrian turns thirty. Adorableness ensues.


Last year, I thought it would be Adrian's last birthday in Chicago so I went a little overboard even though it wasn't a milestone year. I had this big elaborate black and white birthday party and it was wonderful. And also stressful. Then we didn't end up moving. So this year, when he turned thirty, I was at a loss for what to do. Throw another big party with lots of months of planning and preparing or go low key, out to dinner and drinks with friends? Luckily, Adrian soon let me know that he was feeling like a low key night out with friends followed by a family dinner the next day. Perfect.

In a rare turn of events, Adrian also ended up with his birthday off from work so I took the afternoon off and we went out to lunch with his parents. He was absolutely thrilled. 

This 30th birthday was so special for us. Adrian has waited twelve long years to be able to spend a birthday with his parents. (To read more on the difficulties of getting Visas for family, check out Sarah's blog post!) So to spend the day together with both of his parents was surreal.

We spent the next few days celebrating with friends and family. In total, Adrian ended up with three cakes, lots of drinks and bunches of love. I am so happy that he had such a wonderful birthday and that he was able to spend such a momentous birthday with his parents. Finally.

What are you doing for Cinco de Mayo?

Answer: Welp, just about the same thing I'm doing for seis de mayo, siete de mayo and every día de mayo después.

I haven't had much free time this week. Between Adrian's birthday (yay!) and school and afterschool and immigration marches and friends' birthdays, it's been a little crazy. That said, sitting down to write and think just has not happened. It will, but just not yet.
Sigh. 

In light of that, I'm going to take about ten minutes to share some thoughts on Cinco de Mayo. Inspired by my sister's post and by bunches of conversations this week, I have cinco observations for Cinco de Mayo.

They are as follows:
1) I have talked a lot about Cinco de Mayo this week.
2) Aside from talking with Adrian about our distaste for the holiday, not one of those conversations about Cinco de Mayo has been with anyone of Mexican heritage, be it Mexican-mexican (meaning from Mexico) or Mexican-American.
3) This is astounding based upon the fact that roughly 60% of my conversations this week were shared with people of Mexican origin.
4) I have not heard of any parties or other celebrations for Cinco de Mayo, except those being thrown by people of non-Mexican origin.
5) I heard of one workplace in which "Mexican facts" were being shared with the company in honor of Cinco de Mayo.

So, there's that.

Before donning that sombrero or fake mustache or poncho or before grabbing a shot of tequila and yelling "ay ay ay" or some such nonsense, please consider this: You're mocking me. You're mocking Adrian. You're mocking my grandfather. My mother. My aunts and uncles. My cousins. My in-laws. My nieces and nephews. My students. My neighbors. You're making us your entertainment. The butt of your joke.

And as my sister explained, it goes beyond this:
See, the problem I have with celebrating Cinco de Mayo by getting wasted off tequila and/or Coronas and wearing a big sombrero and a fake mustache is that when you do this, you turn an entire ethnicity into a caricature. You perpetuate stereotypes and help to objectify an entire ethnicity. When an ethnicity is turned into an object instead of treating each person as an individual/human, it is much easier to justify policies against them or, on a smaller scale, to justify mocking them. 

One last thought: I know that there is this thought that if we check in with our Mexican friend and he/she says it's fine and that he/she isn't offended, it's okay, right? No, no it's not okay. Because if one Mexican isn't offended, then surely all Mexicans aren't offended, right? Putting it in those terms, we hear how ridiculous this idea is, yes? Please say yes.

The very notion that one person could speak on behalf of an entire people group as a collective representative is ridiculous and is reflective of the very problem that I have with Cinco de Mayo: boiling down an entire culture and group of individuals into one, as if everyone thinks the same, acts the same, looks the same.

The idea then is to move away from feeding into this "Mexicans are all the same" mentality and into seeing Mexicans as we are: individuals. And then to start looking at our own behaviors, including how we choose to celebrate (or not celebrate) Cinco de Mayo, and how they place barriers between ourselves. To see how by placing me or Adrian or whoever into this little box of how a Mexican should be, you're missing out on getting to know who we actually are. How comments of "you don't look Mexican" or "he's too tall to be Mexican" offer insight into how little we understand the diversity of the Mexican people.

The idea is to move into love and understanding and appreciation and I just can't see how Cinco de Mayo celebrations with sombreros and mustaches and tequila fit into that.

And with that, enjoy your weekend! In a respectfully inclusive way, no?
Blogging tips