You might recall that a few months ago, I documented Moms Demand Action lobby Florida legislators for common sense gun laws. You can see that post here if you missed it. This weekend, the NRA held their national convention in Atlanta, GA, and for the first time since Reagan, our President spoke at their event. Well, Moms were prepared. Moms Demand Action held a counter rally in Woodruff Park, Atlanta yesterday, and I had the honor and pleasure of documenting it. Speakers included Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts, Moms Demand Action National Spokeswoman Lucy McBath, Atlanta Women’s March Organizer Janel Green, Georgia State Senators Elena Parent and Vincent Fort, Reverend Raphael G. Warnock, PhD, and Representative John Lewis. It was a truly positive and inspiring event.
I’ll let the images speak for themselves, but I did want to share a favorite quote from Representative John Lewis that I know will stay with me. Before we participated in the Women’s March, I purchased a children’s book called “The Youngest Marcher” by Cynthia Levinson. Our family loves books, and I wanted some positive examples of protests to share with my children to help them understand what we were doing and why. This particular story is about a little girl named Audrey who helps Dr. King with the desegregation movement by volunteering to protest and consequently go to jail. Audrey said the adults were too afraid — they didn’t want to lose their jobs or their apartments, so the children volunteered. Dr. King calls for them to “fill the jails”, and that’s exactly what they do. It’s an absolutely wonderful story — Audrey is so brave and strong. But you guys, I literally cry EVERY time I read this book to my kids. Well, if you are familiar with Lewis and his key role in desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement, then you may not be surprised by his speech. He spoke about resistance and doing what is necessary to stand up for what you believe in, including going to jail (which he has done many times for this reason). His advice is to “Get in trouble — good trouble! Get in the way!” It made me think of Audrey and my two children at home. It reminded me why I was there. I was so proud to tell my boys that I met a friend of Dr. Martin Luther King’s today.
Last week, we finished reading The BFG by Roald Dahl. It was Merit’s first chapter book, and he loved it! Apparently, it was Travis’s favorite book by Roald Dahl as a kid, but I had never read it. This all started when my parents put on the new film at their house for all the cousins. Merit only saw a short glimpse of it, so when we got home, he kept asking to watch it again. I suggested we read the book instead, not knowing how he would do with it. There are illustrations scattered here and there, but not on every page, and I didn’t know how he would be with remembering and waiting between chapters. Also, from what I had seen of the film, there was definitely a dark side to the story. I know that he is generally pretty brave and likes to feel a little bit thrilled/uneasy, so I thought we’d give it a shot. Honestly, it could not have gone better. He asked to read it all. the. time! Even during the scary parts, he would tell me he was nervous and cuddle up or hold my hand, but tell me to keep going. It was so sweet. It reminded me so much of how I felt about books when I was young — when you can just sit and read all day and not have to worry about stopping for anything (except when your parents bug you. ugh.). Now, we are on to James and the Giant Peach, and he is the exact same way.
We finished The BFG on Thursday evening, and I decided Friday would be a fun day all about his new favorite story. I had purchased the old, animated movie from the 80s, but we were saving that until Daddy got home. While we waited, we set out to the store to buy some ingredients to make our own frobscottle and snozzcumbers, and for nets to catch dreams. It was a great day of pretending, and I think it actually really wore them out! They slept better and longer than normal that night.
In the book, the BFG uses his big ears to hear the dreams he is catching. When we went outside to catch dreams, Merit took this very seriously and listened very hard. He didn’t catch any dreams at all on our first try because he couldn’t hear them. During Eliot’s nap, I made some giant BFG ears to help them hear the dreams. They didn’t wear them very long, but it totally worked. Merit said he didn’t need the ears anymore because he could hear the dreams now : )
If you know the story, you know that the BFG mixes his dreams together in jars. We mixed paint (and, in some cases, glitter) with a little bit of water. The boys stuffed cotton balls into their jars and we poured the paint/glitter/water mixture over and “mixed” it until the cotton was pretty saturated. Dreams clearly need extra sparkle, so we threw some spangle mix in for good measure, too. And we just did this in layers until the jars were full. The orange paint glows in the dark, but we actually haven’t tested it out yet thanks to Daylight Savings Time. Once they got cleaned up, I asked the boys what their dreams were about. Eliot told me his dream was about Pop-Pop. Merit wanted to write out his own label for his dream, so I told him I would just re-write it smaller to fit on the jar. When he was done writing out the story of his dream, I asked him to tell me about it, and I swear I could not make this up if I tried. I am going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for a minute. As a parent, I think you need to celebrate your own successes sometimes because, otherwise, many times the outcomes we want and hope for are just “expected” and go unnoticed. This is basically my go-to explanation for him when I am telling him about misogyny or racism: “Some people think that ______ (e.g. black people, women) can’t/shouldn’t be able to do the same things as _________ (e.g. white people, men).” And then we talk about how that is not kind or true. We had just talked about women gaining the right to vote for International Women’s Day two days before. We had read a book about Rosa Parks. And then Merit comes up with this story. Sure, no one is being denied “a right to hug”, but, you guys, he gets it. Apparently, he is really listening, because the dream he caught and mixed up is about social justice and hugs. <3
Sometimes I wonder if he is too young for me to burden with my worries. I wonder if I am too immersed in all of this and if I should just leave my children out of it. Let kids be kids. But, at the same time, they are the reason I do everything that I do. They are the reason I want a better world, and they are going to help me build it.
Back to The BFG! We made “stuffed snozzcumbers” for dinner, which as it turns out, were a huge hit and have already been requested again. Total win! I basically just modified a recipe for zucchini boats and filled them with taco meat, tomatoes, and corn, and we topped them with cheese. You could make these any number of ways and they would be awesome! The boys really couldn’t scoop out the zucchini, but they enjoyed trying.
For our frobscottle, we just used Sprite with some green food coloring and a drop of vanilla and raspberry extracts. There are many super cute recipes online, including one with pop-rocks (so fun!). My kids hardly ever drink anything other than water, so I thought this was enough for now 🙂 And they loved it! Travis and I also had some frobscottle, but we added an extra ingredient to ours (hint: it’s clear, alcoholic, and starts with a “V”). We put a raspberry in our bottles to make sure they didn’t get mixed up with the kids’!
P.S. The 80s version of the movie was super cute and more appropriate for them both to watch, I think. I was afraid the new film might be too realistic and scary, but we may give it a shot next time we visit their grandparents. In researching his books that have been turned into films, I read that Roald Dahl generally disliked film adaptations of his stories. Apparently, he didn’t want Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator to become a film after seeing Willy Wonka. But he liked this silly cartoon version of the BFG, so I think it’s worth watching for that reason alone. Plus, the style of animation will bring you back to your own childhood ; )
Yesterday, I spent the day in our state capitol with an amazing group. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was founded after the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting. Much like Mothers Against Drunk Driving was created to reduce drunk driving, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was created to advocate for stronger laws and policies that will reduce gun violence and save lives. This nonpartisan group is a program of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country, with more than 3 million grassroots supporters. I have long followed their page on Facebook (see them here) and been a big supporter of their mission. On their Florida Lobby Day, over 60 people from across the state gathered in Tallahassee and held 100 meetings with our representatives to lobby for common sense gun legislation. The group included parents, grandparents, educators, men, women, and survivors of gun violence who are all working toward a common goal. I am so thankful for the hard work and commitment of everyone involved in this group. Visit their website to find out how you can get involved!
Below are Fred and Maria Wright — parents of Jerry Wright, a victim of of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida. Mr. Wright says his mission is now to push for legislation that would prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. I was so inspired by their bravery and resolve.
I woke up on January 21 to see posts about women’s marches from around the world. I couldn’t contain my emotions as I saw women standing together everywhere from Serbia to Mexico, from Norway to New Zealand, from London to South Africa. I still can’t quite find the words to describe how it made me feel, but I know anyone who supports the march and it’s purpose probably understands — because they feel the same way.
Travis and I packed up the car, loaded up the kids, and headed over to our local march location early to ensure we would get parking. We were notified the night before that the group had lost access to the street, and we were supposed to march side-by-side on the sidewalk for the duration of the 1.3 mile march. The last estimate I had seen suggested there would be 10,000 people.
It turns out that 20,000 people came out in Saint Petersburg, FL (and we ended up with street access after all). This morning, I woke up to see that this was the largest protest in American history with 2.9 million people showing up across the country. I am so proud and honored to have participated. I am so happy that all the way home, and for the rest of the evening, my boys were chanting “love, not hate.” I am so thankful that they were able to see people of all skin colors, genders, sexual orientations, physical ability, and religions come together to achieve a common purpose. If you are unfamiliar with the women’s march, you can read more about it here.
It would have been easier to leave the “big camera” at home, or to ask my husband to stay home with the kids so that I could march and take photographs. I took most of these with a (sleeping) baby strapped to my chest. But now, here it is. On the record. Their first protest. Be kind. Choose love. This is what democracy looks like.
P.S. Next steps here.