posts tagged with 'holiday'
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?!
Not counting leftovers, we had two solid Thanksgiving dinners this year. And best of all they were on different days! On Thanksgiving proper we went to my parents' house; they won the honor because my brother and his family were there too. They live far away, so we tend to see them just once a year at most. They're planning to come up at Christmas time too this year, so Thanksgiving was an exciting bonus! Since the Archibalds are old-fashioned folks we ate our dinner at 1:00. There was all the food you'd expect, and each of us boys had a different thing we liked the best. The early dinner time was great because it let us digest for a little bit and then head out for a walk while there was still plenty of light. A short walk—we weren't really up for much exertion. And there was dessert waiting at home. I made an apple pie.
On Friday we reprised the holiday with Leah's parents and brother. I was meant to bring corn bread, which was unfortunate because I'm not good at making corn bread and also because our oven stopped working briefly in the middle of the cooking. The delay meant I missed some playing and socializing time, but at least I wasn't late for dinner! I even got there in time to watch Leah's brother carve the turkey in the optimal scientific way, which was amazing. I should take lessons: I've never actually carved a turkey, but every time I try to cut up a chicken it's a disaster. This turkey, barbecued, was as tasty as it was well-carved. We got some of the leftovers too, and they were wonderful in sandwiches Saturday. I call this Thanksgiving a success.
An article in the Bedford Citizen asks if this past Saturday was the best Bedford Day ever. I don't know about that. The St. Paul's Church booth didn't have nearly the bake sale spread we're accustomed to, and the candy throwing at the parade caused just as much chaos as it always does. On the other hand, the weather was beautiful. And there was free cotton candy.
We started the day off with the parade, and we had a big gang together at our traditional viewing spot: four families that planned to be there, and one more who we just happened to meet there. New this year, the town set up some barricades along the street to, I assume, keep the kids from crowding the parade off the road in their desperate scramble for candy. We were happy to see them.
Not that they totally worked... besides the gaps in between them that let anybody with a lack of self-restraint come around in front, most of the people throwing candy from trucks didn't manage to get any of it actually over the barriers. Which felt kind of even more dangerous than not having them there at all? No worries for us, though; we stayed safely behind.
Then it was on to the fair. There was plenty more candy available at various booths, plus fruit at one and toothbrushes at a couple others to balance out the sweets. But we didn't last long; with the summery weather everybody was out there and it was a little overwhelming. Most of us quickly escaped to a shady spot for lunch. And from our shady spot we could watch the karate demos and dance performances—plus keep an eye on kids on the playground—so there didn't seem much reason to move for quite a while.
Eventually we decamped to the library for the book sale, and also because we just like being in the library. Several of our friends had by then left to watch the high school football game—rescheduled from Friday night due to EEE mosquito fears—so when they let me know that the second half was starting and admission was now free I forced the boys away from their bookish reverie for some real American sporting. I don't know how much of the game we actually absorbed over the 20 minutes we managed to stay in the stadium, but we certainly felt like we taking part in some real Bedford life.
Then leaving the stadium we watched some middle school boys rolling down a steep hill in truck tires: at least as thrilling as the football!
It was a fine day. Bedford Day continues to be one of my favorite days.
Yesterday we went to the Picnic in the Park to celebrate Independence Day in style. It was maybe our tenth straight year going or something; maybe more. Once we find something good, we stick with it! Most of us, anyway: Leah was even more wiped out than the rest of us by our adventures on Cape Cod the first half of the week and our late-night return on Wednesday, so she stayed home. Plus, cotton candy doesn't have the same appeal for her as for some others of us.
And not only cotton candy: pie and ice cream too!
Also popcorn and candy, plus all the food we brought from home for our lunch picnic. So it was a good thing that we had some active pursuits in the bounce house and the field games. Here's Zion taking a fall trying to catch up with the bigger kids in his second sack race heat (he still finished first among the smaller ones).
There was music too, which I enjoyed more than the boys. They're big now, and I appreciated that when they wanted to play on the playground during the Concord Band set they could do it without me there! Lijah is especially impressive. When he wanted a balloon animal, he was able to wait in line by himself for like half and hour, which I never would have been able to stand.
The only downside of the day was that water to play in was in short supply. The fountain was turned off, and the fire department with their hose—usually a highlight—packed up early for some reason. But there was plenty of drinking water for us to quench our thirst after our bike ride to the fair, and refill once again for the trip home.
Harvey's friend Jack came with us, which was super fun, and we met up with a whole bunch of other friends there. It all contributed to a great celebratory day: even without fireworks, it was just what Fourth of July should be.
A month ago today the boys were very excited about Easter, mostly because they were looking forward to wearing new suits, and Leah was quite stressed for the same reason. Needless to say, she made it happen, and everyone was thrilled with the results!
Besides the outfits, Leah also saw to the Easter baskets, which were low-key but still delightful.
I don't have any good pictures from church because, for the first time, we ran kids programming on Easter. That's what I saw to. It went well and felt properly celebratory, but it was also a lot of work. After the service there was an egg hunt. Being small Lijah got to go in with one of the earlier groups, so he got his ten eggs without any trouble. The bigger boys had a tougher time with more competition!
Never mind, we had another hunt at our house with plenty of eggs for everyone—filled not just with candy but with little plastic Pokemon too.
Many of the eggs were easy to find, but a few were very hard, so there was some hard searching time for the older kids. Some children, traumatized by hunts in years past, didn't want to try; but anyone who did try got all they wanted.
There was plenty of food too—pot-luck style so we didn't have to work to hard—so even though they didn't get 25 eggs filled with candy the adults didn't go hungry either.
Looking back, I feel lucky we got to experience such a lovely Easter: wonderful friends willing to hang out with us and a fun, laid-back church even with 80 kids to look after. Good times. I'm glad I could finally write about it.
In the first half of April we celebrated nine days of Patriots Day festivities in Bedford and Lexington. Things kicked off here in Bedford with the pole capping parade; I've written before how cool it is that we get all the minute companies to start the season, and this year was no exception.
It wasn't all guns and aggression; there was lots of lovely fife and drum music too, and a handful of colonial women and children.
The weather was beautiful—clear and mild—so for the first time ever we actually stayed for the pole capping itself. We were there with friends, and all the kids endured the politicians' speeches without complaint (it helped that we gave them snacks). Our friend Andrew, who moved to town a couple years ago, said it was the most Bedford thing he'd ever experienced. It was especially fun cheering for our neighbor Samantha, who won an award as the most notable high school senior and had to sit up front looking respectable through all the speechifying. Then they put the hat on the pole.
The following Saturday was again warm and beautiful, perfect weather for cycling to Lexington to watch the big reenactment at Tower Park. I take pictures of it every year and they're all about the same, but it's such an experience I couldn't resist yet another round.
One difference this year is that, having biked, we were in position to watch the proceedings from the back side. That was great for the first part of the battle, but less optimal as the fighting moved east with a swamp between us and the action. I followed some other people into the woods to see what we could see, but the minutemen yelled at us so we had to go back. Unlike the more famous reenactment in Lexington Center, though, this one is big enough that there's always something to see.
The weather was looking iffy for Monday's parade, the highlight of the week's festivities. It was cancelled last year due to rain, so we were really hoping not to miss it again. Morning rain led us to cancel our own plans for a pre-parade picnic in Lexington, but things looked fine for the parade itself at 2:00 so at quarter to one we gathered up our three-family group of cyclists and headed out. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves until my mom called me ten minutes into the ride to let us know that, due to more rain in the forecast, the parade start had been moved up to 1:15. Yikes!
So we hurried. Zion was feeling week (he had skipped Saturday's ride because of sickness) so I carried him and his bike, but all the other kids (and adults) did great, and we made it the five miles up the hill in just 28 minutes—in plenty of time to find a good spot along the strangely empty parade route, and fortify ourselves after all our hard work with fried dough and Italian ice. We're always glad to be out for a parade.
Besides the reenactors and bands—and there were some fine bands this year—the parade highlights Lexington's increasingly diverse cultural makeup. We all liked getting up close and personal with this dragon.
We were talking smack about the Shriners as their first units rolled by, but then we had to take it all back when the mini-big rigs—pretty great themselves—were followed up by a trio of motorized tricycles—basically powered big wheels. Two of them could drift and the third could turn on two wheels. Very exciting.
After the parade was exciting too. The decision to start the parade early was an inspired one, because just as the last unit went by our spot the sky turned dark, and within five minutes the first drops were falling (the parade still had close to a mile to go past us, so sorry to those folks!). We were prepared, and got everything packed up and everyone into raincoats in record time.
Then the ride home featured weather that ranged from drizzle to torrential downpour. It was actually pretty great. I consider Patriots Day to have been celebrated.
We celebrated the equinox in the best of all possible ways today, by getting out into the newly springlike world on bicycles. The plan was to picnic by Fawn Lake, but the clayey mud on the path and Zion's flu-related shortness of breath stopped us before we made it that far. Never mind, we found a nice soccer field for our lunch, and running around (for short periods of time, interspersed with rests) suited our energy level better than hiking would have anyways. It was lovely to be outside.
Besides the outing, we also observed the day by taking down the paper snowflakes and baking equinox cookies, activities which are now traditional. We didn't make flowers to replace the snowflakes, though, unlike last year; instead our art time was taken up with illustrating adjectives. Not seasonal, but just as fun. Since friends came over in the afternoon and stayed for dinner we also didn't manage to follow through on my plan of building a bonfire and burning the snowflakes... maybe we can do that tomorrow.
We don't typically do much for Valentines Day here at our house, but I was feeling it this week. Maybe because we marked it on the calendar back at the beginning of the month. So did the thing almost like they do at school: on Tuesday Zion, Lijah, and I painted some hearts and made a hanging decoration, and yesterday we made cards for Mama. I'm very proud of the fine watercolor work I did on mine, so even though in our conversation last night she told me she doesn't care about cards this morning I gave it to her anyways. She gave me one too. Then I thought it would be nice to do something special for breakfast; heart-shaped pancakes would be the obvious choice, but our pancake day is Friday and it wouldn't do to have pancakes two days in a row. So instead I made heart-shaped toads-in-the-hole (toad-in-the-holes? I'm not sure). Zion was delighted, and arranged the plates for a photo shoot.
And... I guess that's all we did. But that's lots more than usual! A good time was had by all. Happy Valentines Day!
We don't really do "curriculum" here at the squibix home education shop, but when there are seasonal events that I care about you can bet that the kids are going to hear about them. Like the solstice, election day, and, most of all, Martin Luther King Day. We spent four days concentrating, to the extent that we ever concentrate on anything at all, on Dr. King's life and legacy, and on the broader struggle for integration and equality from the '50s to today. Then we made posters.
The unit got off to a bad start on Thursday when we arrived at the library, blank non-fiction book record sheets in hand, to find that all the biographies of Dr. King had already been checked out from the children's section. Oh well, I suppose that's a good thing overall. We actually ended up with the more interesting books related to the topic—on the Birmingham children's marches, integration in Selma, and the cart that carried Dr. King's coffin at his funeral—but weren't able to find much in the way of biographical information. Then when we got home I thought of checking the Levar Burton's Skybrary ap on the iPad, and lo and behold it had two fantastic biographies (and one bad one). The littler boys listened to all of them a couple times.
The poster project had two goals. We're talking about posters generally, as an example of information design and organizing our thoughts to share knowledge, so it was good to practice that. Plus, I wanted to have a tangible goal to our studies to concentrate minds a little bit. Harvey's poster, above, contains images from the famous "I Have a Dream" speech; see how many you can identify. Of course, I'm not really strict about content: Zion's been very taken with the Reflecting Pool in Washington DC, so his poster contains only a large blue rectangle. And Lijah illustrated a dispute he'd had with his friends the week before.
Never mind; the important work of the week was our conversation around what we read and what we thought. That's most of our learning, actually: conversation over lunch or in the car or sitting on the couch after we finish a book. Conversation about whatever takes someone's interest. This morning we talked about the space program and watched Youtube videos of rockets exploding. It may not be organized, but these children are learning many things. Including, especially, the importance of active anti-racism. Happy Martin Luther King Day; let's make it a Martin Luther King Year.
The recent holiday season was not our finest. All of us were sick off and on, with varying degrees of seriousness; for my part, I was pretty much knocked out with illness two separate times over the ten day span. And leading up to Christmas I did a bad job focusing on what Leah wanted, so my presents for her were not what she was hoping for. The boys had plenty to unwrap. Harvey made some sweet gifts for his brothers, including the stuffed blue triangle with eyes and a smiley face that Lijah desperately wanted (plus a house for it to live in!). I made Zion his bow and arrow. And there were lots of legos. We opened some here at home, then headed for my parents' house for the rest, and for the assembly phase.
There was also a fire to sit by and plenty of delicious food, starting with brunch and going continuously from there through supper. We sang some songs to work off the calories.
My brother and his family came up on the 27th, so on Friday we had a second Christmas celebration with them: more of the same, only even more relaxed. Thankfully there weren't too many more presents to open, since Harvey and Zion at least felt by the afternoon of the 25th that they'd gotten more than they ever wanted. It can be a little overwhelming. All they really wanted was to play with their cousin Nisia—and meet their baby cousin Esther! We did those things.
I had thought of having a New Years Day brunch, but then we got an invitation to spend the day with my cousins, who we barely ever see. So I figured we could do a New Years Eve brunch instead. There was plenty of food and plenty of board games.
When everyone got tired of our house we all moved on to the next event, a pot-luck supper at our friends' house. There was more food and more board games, plus Super Smash Bros for the kids. All was perfect except that I was too worried my fever would come back to be able to have a drink. Never mind, that meant I was sharp enough to completely dominate a game of Stone Age. The competition was all-consuming, so I was pretty surprised when we finished up and I noticed it was already 9:30. Yikes! More than late enough for us, so we went home and went to bed.
New Years Day the cousins cancelled on us, after hearing about the plagues we were suffering (Nisia came down with a fever New Years Eve). Since she already had all the food, my mom invited us to come anyways; since I had already made two quiches, I said sure. At least this time we took a walk. The kids had fun, even if they chose not to show it in pictures.
All in all we had a pretty good time, but we're also glad to see the tree come down and the schedule go back up on the chalkboard. All that eating and relaxing is hard work!