Goodbye 2017; hello, 2018!
The world felt like it went to hell in 2017, but you know what? It was an opportunity for us to fight for what we believe in harder than ever before. Even – and especially – when it felt like we may lose. As my morbid but truthful friend says about our bodies’ continual wars against death: “And even if it looks like defeat is assured, like there is no hope, like we absolutely cannot win… well, we can handle an unwinnable war on ten million fronts, what’s one more?”
In 2018, we’ll continue to fight that good fight for us and our kids.
But I hope within all of that difficulty and challenge that you take time and space to have fun.
“Bursch!” my eighteen-month-old points and yells. Even though that’s his word for everything, from bikes to balls, I say, “That’s right! That’s the bus!” Perhaps he’s picking up on his older brother’s deep love of the bus. Besides the fact that he’ll actually know what the lyrics of The Wheels on the Bus are talking about, his affinity for public transit will serve him well. In fact, I actually encourage it and bring my kids on the bus with me when possible. Here’s why I skip the car and ride the bus with my kids when I can:
As I scrolled through Facebook the day President Trump announced America was leaving the Paris accords to address climate change, I couldn’t do anything but sigh and shake my head. As a long time climate change activist, I increasingly identify with the climate scientists sinking into despair the same way the West Antarctic ice sheet is. As there was nothing else I could do, I posted a screenshot of the Weather Channel that made me laugh. That evening, I stood out on my back deck, stared at the stars, and wondered what the hell we’re doing to our children’s future.
Kite-flying does not come easily to my family. In Ocean City a few years ago, my mom and I sprinted through the sand over and over again to be met with a diving kite on the end of a limp string. We fell over laughing, but we never did get it up in the air. Thankfully, we had a lot more luck in both kite flying and cooperation this past weekend at the Cherry Blossom Kite Festival in Washington D.C.
Welcome to Earth Month! This month, I’m going to be profiling a number of “green moms” who purposely live in a sustainable way. If you’re interested in green transportation in particular, check out the Family Biking Profiles I did last year for Bike Month in May!
Our first Green Mom profile is of Jen Mendez, who lives in Southern Maryland with two kids, who are four and six years old. She’s one of the most holistically sustainable folks I’ve ever met. I first encountered her at D.C.’s annual urban agriculture festival Rooting DC. Last year, she provided invaluable input into the Outdoors Family Challenge and highlighted it several times on her website and podcast. She runs the PERMIE KIDs Community Supported Education Network and its Facebook page, which has loads of great resources.
In these troubled times, it’s easy to ask, “What can I possibly do as a mom / dad?” This past weekend, my family attended one rocking answer to that question.
Welcoming immigrants and refugees to America is one of my core political values. More than one of my family stories revolves around immigration and I’m a better person for knowing the many immigrants in my life. I strongly believe in providing opportunities for people who just want to build a better life for their children.
So when I saw that the Takoma Parents Action Coalition was putting on a “Toddler Dance Party” to benefit the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition, I knew this event was our jam.
“Tell us what democracy looks like – this is what democracy looks like!” chanted by countless voices rang through the National Mall. I and two of my friends were in the middle of the Women’s March on Washington yesterday, along with about a million other people. From creative signs to the chants, the crowd was seriously pissed off. At the same time, there was a serious sense of solidarity and dare I say – hope.
As Dave Engledow, the photographer of the World’s Best Father set of photos, says, it felt like the scene in The Grinch Stole Christmas when all of the Whos in Whoville sing together despite the Grinch trying to ruin everything.
Maybe democracy doesn’t come from a store – perhaps democracy means just a little bit more!
A few of my highlights from the day:
Standing on the National Mall in the February cold, I stomped my feet and tried to ignore how sore my lower back felt. Watching the stage, I strained to listen to the speakers, from Silicon Valley billionaires to Native American activists. I was at one of the biggest climate change protests ever, focused on defeating the Keystone XL oil pipeline. While it attracted 12,000 people, it’s unlikely that many were in the same situation as I was: five months pregnant.
Despite the cold and a serious lack of bathrooms, I marched in hopes of shifting the tide against climate change. Now, with the election of Donald Trump for president and the Republican domination of Congress, I find it more important than ever before to be an activist mom.
Among the many skills I want to pass on to my kids, getting around on their own power is actually pretty far up there. Biking and walking places provides exercise, helps get kids outside (with all of the associated benefits!), and provides them a level of independence that they won’t be able to get any other way.
That’s why I’m thrilled that I have a guest post up at Parent.co on teaching kids to value bicycling and walking.
Here’s the first two paragraphs:
“In my day, we walked a mile uphill both ways in the snow” is the ultimate cliche for cranky parents to compare themselves to kids these days. But walking and biking have huge benefits beyond the ability to complain later on.
Active transportation establishes lifelong healthy habits for life, builds relationships with neighbors, minimizes greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, and increases kids’ independence. While our society advertises a minivan as the ultimate family vehicle, it is actually possible to shift trips away from the car.
Read the rest at Parent.co!
Want your kids to focus less on “stuff” and more on people? Try these six ways to serve others at Christmas with them!
“Did they have a home?” my three-year-old asked as I finished telling him the Christmas story.
“Yes, they had a home,” I said, skipping the whole “escaping into Egypt” bit. While his question surprised me, it wasn’t out of nowhere. We’ve been talking about how not everyone has the same privileges we do, including homes.
These discussions are important all year round, but I find them especially important at the holidays. It’s easy for kids to get wrapped up in the Christmas’s surface-level magic, from twinkling lights to presents. Instead, as both a Christian and someone who’s concerned with our society’s inequality, I want to teach my kids how to serve others during Christmas.
Here are some ways to turn away from consumerism and towards serving others at Christmas: