sledstravaganza!

I wasn't sure how we were going to spend our Martin Luther King Day yesterday. I didn't have work, so I got to spend the rare Monday with the boys; but there was also no school, so I expected that they'd probably be playing with school-going friends. So we left our schedule wide open. As it turns out, all the school-goers made sure that they had every minute programmed so after a peaceful morning of games and historical study, we were all ready when homeschooled friends invited us to join them for some sledding.

kids sledding

whee!

There's not a ton of snow but it was plenty to give us a few good runs down the hill. That might have been it, but then someone had the idea to run a race. So we stomped out a finish line, then a start line past which nobody was allowed to push, then the race was on! I forget who won that first one, but it didn't matter because it was followed by another, then another, then another... A sixty-second timer to get back to the start line kept everyone moving briskly up the hill as well as down. And there were enough races that each of the five kids and two dads had a chance to take a win or two (of course, I took lots more than two). As seen above, Lijah was a full participant—at least, until he face-planted with a 13-year-old on top of him. Then he went inside. But we persisted! After the races ended we tried some group challenges, and were very proud to get all five of the remaining sledders first on one snow-tube and then on the toboggan.

sledders at the top of the hill with the low sun behind them

still at it

Then when we finally called it a day there was hot chocolate with whipped cream waiting inside. Pretty good day!

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the nuances of MLK Day

Martin Luther King day is immensely important, but there are challenges around observing it with kids. With my own white boys, I want to help them understand the systematic racism that's been part of the history of our country, and how it continues to affect people now, without reducing the Black experience entirely to one of persecution. In the other direction, no more do I want to make Dr. King's legacy into a feel-good story about the power of love and positive thinking—the kind of message that lets spokespeople for the current president claim King would have opposed the impeachment effort as dangerous and divisive. Even avoiding those two extremes, any talk about non-violent resistance has to be balanced with the reality that non-violence is really hard, and that sometimes it feels like, to oppose oppression, violence should be the answer. Those are the things I'm talking about with my 10-, 8-, and 5-year-old.

I also read Martin's Big Words to my Kids Church class yesterday, and got a few different reactions. One boy, who's black, told me he didn't like the story because it's scary. Another, biracial, said it was boring because he's heard it a million times—"but there's a cool part when his house gets bombed!" About half of the kids had already heard the book in school, which seems good. But how many third-grade classrooms are equipped to handle the nuances the discussion requires?!

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moments from the week

Lijah hanging from the climbing structure at church

hanging out at church

Moments from the past week.

Lijah looking at a pair of experimental water-filled jars on a table

homeschool work

kids being silly on a slack line

and play

Lijah working with clay

clay shaping

the boys, bundled up, looking at the ice in a stone horse trough

suddenly ice

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on ice

It's been strangely warm around here lately. Very pleasant considered out of context, but hard for me to enjoy because of my existential dread around our changing climate. Also, I like cold and snow! And ice too. So before it warmed up last weekend we took a hike somewhere where I knew we could find ice to play on, and so we did.

Harvey and Zion on the pond playing hockey with sticks

enjoying it!

Not all the ponds were frozen: even before it got warm it wasn't super cold. But the Old Reservoir in Bedford has just tiny inflow and outflow, and it's completely sheltered by hills and trees, so it freezes beautifully. Plus it's in the middle of a delightfully varied and hilly town forest, so getting to the pond is almost as much fun as playing on it. The boys were minutemen, and shot me about 800 times on the hike in (then I snuck around behind their last ambush and gave it to em good!). But when we got to the ice, martial valor was forgotten. We played some stick hockey, we drew in the thin layer of snow, and of course we slid. I prefer my feet for the sliding, but some of us can commit even more fully.

Zion sliding on the ice on his belly

penguin mode

Because we expected that the ice would be going soon we made the most of it, and walked the whole length of the pond. That should hold our winter exploration longing for a little while... but I sure do hope it gets cold again soon!

Zion walking on a fallen tree over the ice, Harvey in the background

ice-splorers

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our weekend of driving

I'm not a fan of driving. As much as possible, I like to bike or walk—or failing that, just skip trips to places that are too far away. I don't take it to extremes: we use the car plenty, to go shopping, to go on homeschool outings, to see farther-away friends. But it's generally a priority to minimize our fossil-fueled miles. Of course, sometimes there are other priorities in life. Like playing Pokemon.

On Saturday, Harvey and I drove an hour and a half north to Rochester, New Hampshire, for a League Cup. Then we had to come home too. That felt like a lot of driving, so we figured we might take is easy Sunday. But then we didn't—we went to a League Challenge in Worcester that entailed another two hours, round trip. Five hours of driving in a weekend might not seem like anything at all if you're from Oklahoma or Montana, but it sure was a lot to us!

Of course, it wasn't all bad. If you discount the environmental impact, the cost of the gas, and the wear and tear on our lovely minivan (which with over 200,000 miles—mostly before us!—is nearing the end of its life), we had a great time road tripping together. We listened to music, we talked, and we sang. On the way home last night we enjoyed the sight of the giant, two-days-past-full moon rising in front of us. And when we were far from home we got to play cards with some great people that we can only see by driving all that way. So maybe it's worth it.

(I only wish I had remembered to fill the tank in New Hampshire, even though it wasn't even half-empty—they've got some cheap gas up there!)

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