A Call to Action for Parents on Climate Change

A Call to Action for Parents on Climate Change; Photo: Painting of the Lorax in front of the White House

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.

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Cooperation in Flight: The Cherry Blossom Kite Festival

Text: "Cooperation in Flight: The Cherry Blossom Kite Festival / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So" Photo: Multi-colored kite flying on a cloudy sky in front of the Washington Monument with other kites in the background

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.

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Green Mom Profiles: Jen Mendez

Text: "Green Moms Profiles: Jen Mendez / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So" Photo: Photo of a boy and a girl underneath a shelter made of sticks

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.

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When Dancing with Toddlers is a Political Act

Photo:  Man with a guitar in front of a mural and a kid behind him dancing. Text: "When Dancing with Toddlers is a Political Act / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

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.

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Marching for the Future: The Women’s March on Washington

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“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:

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The Challenge and Beauty of Being an Activist Mom

Photo: Photo of a husband and wife dressed in winter clothes hugging with the wife holding a Forward on Climate sign; Text: "The Challenges and Beauty of Being an Activist Mom / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

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.

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Guest Post: How to Raise Kids Who Value Biking and Walking

Bicyclists on a triple bicycle in the Tour de Cookie

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!

Teaching Kids How to Serve Others at Christmas Time

Text: "Teaching Kids How to Serve Others at Christmas Time / We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So" Picture of a Christmas tree

“Did they have a home?” Sprout asked me. I had just finished telling him the Christmas story.

“Yes, they did have a home after that,” I said, skipping the whole “escaping into Egypt” bit.

While his question surprised me, it wasn’t totally out of nowhere. We’ve been talking about how not everyone has the same privileges we do, including homes. As both a Christian and someone who’s concerned about our society’s most vulnerable people, I want Christmas to be about a lot more than Santa and presents. In fact, I want to teach my kids how to serve others during the this time of year.

Here are some ways to turn away from consumerism and towards others at Christmas:

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How Parents Can Help Love Trump Hate

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The election of Donald Trump for president has unearthed a whole spectrum of reactions. While some people are triumphant, many of us are frustrated, sad, angry, and exhausted – including me. Trump’s future policies are likely to be disastrous for climate justice, immigrants, people of color, LBGT people, religious minorities, poor people, and disabled people. Even though Trump hasn’t taken office yet, there have been numerous reports of people emboldened by his rhetoric who are targeting and harassing vulnerable people.

But as Valarie Kaur wrote after the Charleston shooting, “Today we mourn, tomorrow we organize.” Now, it’s metaphorically, if not literally, tomorrow. It’s time to pick ourselves up and take action.

While it can be very hard to find time, energy and money to spare as a parent, here are some constructive things that we can do in response:

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Apple Picking, Hay Bales and Llamas at Homestead Farm

Photo: Rows of apple trees at Homestead Farm; text: "Apple Picking, Hay Bales, and Llamas at Homestead Farm; We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

As a native upstate New Yorker, apple picking runs in my blood. In my fourth grade class, not just one, but two of my classmates’  families owned apple orchards. While the picking – and especially the cider – isn’t as good in Maryland as New York, it’s still one of my favorite fall traditions. So for the final day of the Outdoors Family Challenge, focusing on “local food,” I wanted to pick apples at Homestead Farm. Even though my anxiety got the best of me on the way there, the crunch of apples, a friendly llama, and Sprout’s enthusiasm lifted my spirits by the time we finished.

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