Friday, March 31, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Muchas Gente

Three of the Top Ten most populous U.S. cities are located in Texas. They are Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


So. A few days ago, the Lone Star Girl showed me that her trunk was sprinkled with spots. She felt totally fine and they were not chicken pox, so, even though I guess I knew they were a little too widely flung for bug bites, I went with the theory that it was either a contact irritation thing or a bug got into her shirt and we carried on as if she were not spotted. Last night, though, she started feeling queasy after dinner and hurled. I did not even think of the spots since they are pretty much gone. She kept insisting that she thought it was something she ate and that she was not sick and wanted to go to school. I confess that I considered allowing her to, but, when she was still feeling queasy this morning, I put my foot down - she was sick. Lone Star Pa stayed home with her today while the Lone Star Baby went to school and I went to work. By lunchtime, the Lone Star Girl was feeling fine again, so it seemed a rather minor bug. Shortly after we arrived home this evening, the Lone Star Baby broke out in spots all over her forehead. She seems otherwise just fine and she and Lone Star Pa are home from school tomorrow anyway. I am trying to decide whether to just watch and wait, since the Lone Star Girl seems unscathed, or to have Lone Star Pa take the baby in to the doc tomorrow to check out her spots. Anyone else have experience wiith this bug?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Texas Caves

Texas is home to over three thousand known caves and seven of them are "show" caves (where you can go take guided tours). Those seven are:

Cascade Caverns
The Cave Without A Name
The Caverns of Sonora
Inner Space Cavern
Longhorn Cavern
Natural Bridge Caverns
The Wonder Cave.

Diversion into a personal anecdote: The show caves are all pretty centrally located in the Hill Country from San Marcos up to Georgetown and fanning out around Boerne, Burnet and Sonora. The Lone Star Girl and I, with the sometime company of my baby sister, a Girl Scout camper extraordinaire, visited all of them on a series of tiny weekend vacations when the Lone Star Girl was between the ages of four and eight. We started caving because the Lone Star Girl had an early interest in geology, but it became a goal of ours - to see all of them by the time she was eight - and we did it. We visited the last of them mere weeks before I became with child again. It was great fun.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

March's YA Pick

My apologies for missing February's YA pick. I am back on board, though, with a pick for March.

March's YA pick is the novel Luna by Julie Anne Peters. This book is already out in paperback and I cannot believe it took me so long to find it because it is a good one and I am a major scout for good books about teens in crisis, due to my work.

Luna is the story of a trans-gender teen and the sister who loves her. The story is told from the sister's point of view and it clearly conveys both her deep and loyal, often self-sacrificing sisterly love, and her very real but guilt-inducing need to be able to do the work of her own growing up without feeling like she is the only thing keeping her sister sane. The book is full of truly heart-rending passages about a teen who feels that she can only be herself at night, alone with her sister, and who realizes that she must be herself in the open, no matter who it hurts, if she is to survive. Except for her younger sister, Luna's family is not supportive and her community is beyond un-supportive, so it is easy to see how she came to lean so heavily on the one person who loves her for herself, and how hard it is for her to stop and learn to stand on her own feet in the face of mind-numbing discrimination. The book does not fall back on cliches or try to simplify the messy interactions of the characters, but presents them as whole people with glories and failures. It is a skillful illumination of the difficulties of being very different and the importance of being true to yourself (also the importance of loving your sister, always a favorite value of mine).

Tea Parties

The Lone Star Baby has a plastic tea set that she plays with some, but that is not really where the action is lately. For the past few days, she has been seeking out her Sissy and asking/announcing Tea Party! with great regularity. Then the Lone Star Girl takes the Lone Star Baby into her room and pulls out her own tiny china tea set and they both unpack it onto a towel on the floor and spend some time finding each other hilarious as they pretend to slurp tea from the tea cups. Then they sort the set into cups, saucers, etc. and put it away together...often to go have a tea party in another room in the house (Lone Star Baby: Tea Party Wiving Woom! Tea Party Kit-chen! Tea Party Bedwoom!). Their love for each other is my greatest joy.


On Sunday afternoon, I took the Lone Star Girl to see the movie Aquamarine, which was supposed to be based on the children's book by the same name by Alice Hoffman. I love Alice Hoffman's YA books and the Lone Star Girl had read and enjoyed Aquamarine as well, so we were pretty excited. In fact, the only real resemblances between the book and the movie turned out to be that they both involved a mermaid, a storm, a boy and a best friend who did not want to move. Otherwise, it was just a silly tween movie, but the Lone Star Girl enjoyed it and I enjoyed having some one on one time with her.

More and more, such mother-preteen outings seem crucial and I know I will need to start making time for more of them. She is a mermaid herself, a creature of transformation, mysterious and changeable. Everyday it is harder for her to know who or what she is...legs or fin? Child or woman? We never really know.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Please Take the Lone Star Girl's Quiz

Daddy Week

My girls have had a Daddy Week. They have both been home on Spring Break and, in his new teacher-life, so has Lone Star Pa, so, while I have been at work, he has taken care of them instead of the usual scramble for supplemental childcare arrangements - very cool. They have played outside a ton, staying grungy and happy. They have finger-painted, overloaded on fast foods, worn mis-matched clothes and let their hair get ratty. They are very happy. Lone Star Pa took them to our local, child-oriented science and history museum several times, once with a friend along for the Lone Star Girl, and they went to play in the water gardens and xeriscape gardens near it. He took them to that awful, over-stimulating pizza palace that they love. On St. Patrick's Day, he let the Lone Star Girl make green sweet rolls for them with the food coloring I picked up for them at the store. They have had a great week. I have missed them but last night, after we got our taxes done, we all went out to dinner together, so that was nice for me, too. I am so glad they get to do this now.

Friday, March 17, 2006

My Shamrock Girl

A happy St. Paddy's Day to everyone, but a special Happy Birthday to my dear baby sister! She is seventeen years old today, folks, which is how old I was when she was born. It's hard for me to believe that she is already seventeen - that's an adult in Texas! Happy Birthday, Sister-Girl! Do you feel like an adult? You may, but you'll always be my baby. I love you.

I really need to learn the code for green.

Lone Star Facts on Fridays

It may come as no surprise that the longest river in Texas is, at 1,241 miles, the Rio Grande.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

21 Months: Bilingual, Independent Baby

The Lone Star Baby turned twenty-one months old yesterday. Her Spanish is exploding into colors and shapes and the occasional and very pleasant si. She has become a very busy little person who likes to get into everything (she has figured out how to work some of the child-proofing equipment) and try to do everything herself. She is so much fun.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Hirkani's Daughters

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog for a word from the shameless plug department:

It is indicative of how preoccupied I have been these last couple of months that I am only now posting this when I received my copy at the beginning of February. That being said, I am still very, very, very excited!

La Leche League International's new book on working and breastfeeding is now available and guess what?

I am Texas.

The book tells the stories of mothers who combine breastfeeding and working from all over the world....including mine, from Texas! I am so excited that you would think I had written the whole book instead of one tiny story in it!

The book, edited by Jennifer Hicks, is called
Hirkani's Daughters: Women Who Scale Modern Mountains to Combine Breastfeeding and Working. There are many wonderful stories in it - much better than mine - and I feel honored to be part of such an important book. I think the book marks an important moment in the herstory of La Leche League, an organization that has helped so many mothers and babies. La Leche League has probably always offered more assistance to families in combining work and breastfeeding than any other organization on the planet, but it has always been done a bit wistfully, in my opinion, as though there were hopes that such help would not always be needed. With this book, I think La Leche League acknowledges that work is where most mothers of babies are likely to be found across the world, so working mothers are not just a special group to help, but a main constituency, and that helping them will always be a main part of what LLL does. The book offers women's stories, information about laws all over the world and advocacy information. I hope you like it!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Thursday, March 09, 2006

My Pre-Teen Writer

The Lone Star Girl spent some time on the computer tonight working on her novel. Mama's so proud.


The Lone Star Baby knows the names of everyone in our immediate family (She calls us Mommy, Daddy and Sissy, but will tell our actual names if we ask), the names of her teachers and friends and of our closest neighbors and most of the other people in her life. Her big thing, though, is her own name, for which I will insert Lone Star Baby for the purposes of this post. Lately, if we ask her a status question such as Are you sleepy? or Are you cold?, she answers with an indignant:

No. I Lone Star Baby.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Library Moment

A little over a week ago, I stopped at the Central Library on my way home from work. The kids were home with Lone Star Pa and it was late. While I am far from a stranger to our Central Library, I spend most of my library time at our branch library, especially at night, and wasn't sure this one would still be open at that time of night. I was feeling pretty down and worn out as I walked across the parking lot. I saw the Director of Libraries heading for a back door in his home clothes and we had the following exchange:

Me: Hi. Is it already closed?
Him: Nah. Want to take a short-cut?
Me: Sure!

I followed him through the back door and, for about twenty seconds, through the bowels of the library. It was cool. Then, in a moment, I was out in the library, turning in my book and picking up the voter's guide I came for. It was a nice moment.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Little Democracy

Today was election day and a primary election. Far too many people, in my opinion, are unaware of or do not participate in the system of caucuses (cauci?) and conventions that begin at the precinct level on primary election nights and go on to determine the policies that make up the platforms of our political parties (not to mention the make-up of that whole crazy electoral college when it's a presidential election). I have yet to attend a precinct caucus that was attended by as many people as there were county delegation slots to fill. I found out about them in college and have tried to participate as much as possible since...these days, that is not much. I was very active in the local party in college, serving on the county party's platform committee and even went to the state convention once, but my responsibilities in recent years have been a bit too overwhelming for that level of participation. I try always to go the precinct caucus and I get to as many county conventions as I can manage, depending on the ages of the kids (so no county convention this year).

Tonight, as usual, I dragged the whole family to our precinct caucus right after the polls closed. Four adults showed up, including Lone Star Pa and I (the Lone Star Girl did try to put her two cents worth in on the votes as she is incensed that children like herself are taxed but not represented)...the precinct was supposed to elect 12 delegates and 12 alternates to the county convention so you can see what I mean about low participation. We elected a chair and I got elected secretary so I wrote everything down on our form. This was a little hard as my darling, charming daughters seemed intent upon seeking danger and mayhem in the lobby of the convent school in which the poll was located (prompting later lectures on democracy from me - it all starts right here, girls! America! - which got the Lone Star Baby singing America the Beautiful again ).

The precinct caucus is the first place that resolutions get voted on. If passed, those resolutions go on to the county convention and so that they can eventually make their way into the National Party Platform and affect what a party's candidates stand for and support. I am all about a good platform. I submitted the below resolution tonight and it passed our precinct. I submitted it during the last primary, too, but - like this year - I was not then able to attend the county convention so I never knew how far it went, but I haven't found much of it in the National Platform yet. I'll keep trying.

Because we value the work of caregivers and know that the nation cannot be productive without them, and…

Because we know that for too long the productivity of our nation has rested on the backs of the unpaid caregivers, mainly women, who care for children and the aging and family members with disabilities to their own considerable expense…

And because children and other vulnerable members of our society deserve high quality care that does not compromise the security or future of their caregivers…

We therefore resolve to embrace a policy of valuing caregiving as equal to other forms of work in this nation and supporting it through the following reforms:

1. Adding unpaid household labor to the Gross Domestic Product,
2. Equalizing Social Security credits for spouses,
3. Offering work-related social insurance programs for all workers, whether they work in the workforce or as unpaid caregivers,
4. Providing child allowances for all families so that children are adequately supported
5. Providing free health coverage for all children and their primary caregivers
6. Making high-quality, government subsidized daycare, available to all families.