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Happy Anniversary, Hither & Thither!

It’s been nine years since Aron and I began writing Hither & Thither, and each year I like to take a look back and remember all that has happened—it’s just convenient that it happens to fall around the same time as the New Year!

Because so much of the content is drawn from our family life, there’s a special pleasure in going through each post. Often I can recall taking a specific photo almost in that Proustian sense: the moment’s sensations come flooding back as if I’ve just bitten into the madeleine.

I continue to be astonished at how different every year has been when it comes to writing the blog. This year, I started off by reducing the number of posts per week and really took a step back from sponsored content, but I confess I still feel like I’ve forgotten something or am playing hooky on days I don’t post—I think because I’ve been doing it for so long! I’m still trying to find the right balance. The kids are both in school until at least one o’clock right now, so I usually work on the site in the mornings. I suppose it’s my own shortcoming that I mostly write day-to-day, rather than planning far ahead. One of my goals this year is to invite more contributors, which would necessitate a more strict editorial calendar.

In the meantime, I’m always eager to write about what interests you most and appreciate all of your feedback. I truly am grateful to those of you who keep reading and who keep commenting, and I read every comment and try my best to reply. Do let me know if there’s anything in particular you’re looking forward to.

Thank you so much for spending your time here! With the usual lack of brevity, here are some highlights from the past year…

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Trip Planning: New Mexico Roadtrip

Though we booked our airline tickets months ago, I’m later than usual getting our plans together for spring break. We’re flying into El Paso, Texas, at the end of March, and renting a car to drive into and throughout New Mexico for a week, before dropping it off again and flying out of Albuquerque.

I have a pretty good idea of the places I’m most eager to visit—images of the gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument (like the one above) have captured my imagination for ages, so that was a must, and the cause for starting our trip so far south. I’d also love to include the bizarrely beautiful rock formations of Tent Rocks, the intricate caves in Carlsbad, and the cliff dwellings of Bandelier National Monument. That said, I’m sure we could easily pass an entire week just eating and enjoying Santa Fe—it will be our first time—so I may be trying to fit in too much.

One challenge to our planning: I had been excited to drive up the high road to Taos, to visit Taos Pueblo, but it will be closed to visitors all of March as part of their winter closure. So we’ve decided to take Taos off of our itinerary. Silly Californians, we forgot how cold it will still be in March in many parts of the state, and have been surprised by how many activities (water sports, trail rides, etcetera), aren’t available during this time of year. But alas, there’s more than enough to see already!

Here’s a rough sketch of my plans…

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KidLit: Celebrating Diversity and Social Justice on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Alli Brydon, a children’s book editor and writer based in the New York City—and a friend from the time we both worked at the same publishing house there—has generously agreed to be a guest contributor and help us expand our childrens’-book libraries. I hope you will enjoy her company as much as I do. 

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and what better way to begin to learn about the struggles and shining achievements of African Americans than through children’s books. There is a huge push for diversity in children’s literature right now, through much-needed movements like #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #pocinpub (please check them out!)—but this is only very recent. Reading books about Martin Luther King, Jr. with my kids reminds me of how far we still need to go.

With many of us looking for more diversity and social justice for our kids’ book collections, these amazing titles will set you off on the right path. I hope you’ll seek out these books and make them perennials in your libraries…

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