Friday, June 30, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Texas Suffrage

Texas women won the right to vote in state primaries and political conventions in 1918 and Texas ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the franchise, in 1919 - the ninth state and first Southern state to ratify it. (If you guessed at a bit of an an ugly story behind the speed with which Texas ratified that wondrous amendment, you are right.)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Teaching Job

I don't like to count my poultry before it emerges from its shell but it does look like I have me a job.

I have been recommended for a position teaching social studies at a local middle school in the fall and I am rather excited about it. I had harbored a not-to-be fantasy about getting hired by the middle school that the Lone Star Girl will attend year-after-next, but another principal recommended me first and, though I mourn the fantasy, I am pleased as punch with the reality. I really liked interviewing with this principal a bunch and think I will like working for him. The school is, without a doubt, the school with the toughest, most inner-city reputation in town, so I feel I will still be working in a job where I can be truly useful to youth and that makes me feel better about this whole career change roller-coaster ride I am on...I'm excited; did I mention that?

I am jealous of my fellow students who have already been given keys to their classrooms and curricula to peruse...the principal knows I am chomping at the bit but I think it may still be a couple of weeks before I get to start preparing. Last night, I dreamt that I did get to go see my classroom. It was a wonderland - huge and filled with books and an overhead projector and most everything I would need (talk about fantasies, I bet!). It was filthy and cluttered and I felt a bit overwhelmed but so pleased and excited.

And GUESS what social studies course I will be teaching? Guess! Guess the perfection of it! Post your guesses!!!!!!! Guess!!!

Another June YA Pick

What I Believe by Norma Fox Mazer is the story of a girl named Vicki whose father becomes unemployed and subsequently depressed, causing her family an extreme dip in economic and emotional security. This difficult period challenges Vicki's values in a number of ways and causes her to question how she wants to live her emotional life with people who have hurt her and may do so again. It is a well-written and engaging story about choosing love over fear.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Blueberry Muffin Morning

The Lone Star Baby and I made blueberry muffins this morning. It was from a mix, but it was still fun. She separated out each paper muffin cup and set them in the muffin pan's cups, she poured the mix into a bowl and poured in the cup of milk and stirred it all up, then helped me spoon it into the muffin cups. We had a great time. Since there were no raw eggs, I let her lick the spoon. She was so sweet! After licking it for a minute, she held it out to me and said:

Mama turn. I share.

So we took turns licking it clean. Then we had blueberry muffins with our brunch. it was lovely.

The Return of the Lone Star Girl

Yay! We drove out to the camp on Friday evening (It's around an hour away) and picked up the Lone Star Girl and brought her home. She looks fabulous! It is always so impressive to me what a week in the woods with a bunch of girls can do...she really should spend a week each month out there! I'd miss her, though, and get taken to truancy court, so I guess that's not happening. She was bursting with vitality and enthusiasm, though, a wonderful change from all the sullen puberty she's been exhibiting lately - camp rocks so much! She had a great time and only had a fit of homesickness one evening/night even though they neglected to give her all of my carefully composed cheerful letters and e-mails until Thursday. She spent most of her time on boating (canoes), swimming and theatre. She was bursting with details about how much she loved boating, word-for-word accounts of all the skits that she participated in and watched, performances of the songs she learned (at least one of which I remembered from when I went to Girl Scout camp as a child) and stories about all her new friends and exciting experiences (like discovering and exploring an abandoned unit - a haunted one). Earlier during the day on the day on which we collected her, the Lone Star Girl had participated in a mile-swim. She didn't make the requirements for the patch, which included making it in 60 minutes to her 63 and a half minutes, but she was the only Junior who completed the mile - not even any of the Cadets made it - just her and a C-I-T and some Seniors. I am so incredibly proud of my girl! She says that her goal is to make it in an hour next year, then in under 50 minutes the next year, then within 45 minutes the following year - the requirement for having your name added to a plaque that they keep at camp of the most amazing mile-swimmers over the years. I am so proud of her and so glad she had such a great time!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Lone Star Facts On Fridays

The major rivers of Texas are: Rio Grande, Colorado, Red, Brazos, Trinity, Canadian, Neches, Sabine, San Jacinto, Pecos, Nueces (whoo hoo! Shout out for the Nueces River!), Guadalupe and San Antonio. Most of them empty into the Gulf of Mexico. All but two (Red and Canadian) empty either into the Gulf of Mexico or into another Texas river that empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Those two empty into out-of-state rivers that empty into....the Gulf of Mexico! You are correct!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

June's 2nd YA Pick

June gets several YA Picks as my penance for not getting to one in May.

What I Call Life by Jill Wolfson is the story of a child who must move into a foster home for a time while her mother deals with some mental health issues. Cal wants very much to believe that she doesn't belong in the home with the other girls, that they are not really her family and that her situation is different, but a fairly wise foster parent and the girls who have been in her shoes often enough, show her that this experience is part of her, just like the rest of her life. This book is a bit of a frame story and is engaging on many levels. I am biased toward decent books about foster children, but I highly recommend it.

Cloud Feet

My Lone Star Baby has the sweetest little cloud feet! I just have to kiss their soft little soles!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Currently Reading

Writing To Change The World by Mary Pipher

Excellent, excellent book.

Daughter And A Movie

Please check out my brand new blog, Daughter And A Movie.. I am hoping that, a few posts from now, I might be able to use it to get a family movie review job. Please wish me luck! Thanks!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Girl Scout Camp!

In addition to giving Lone Star Pa his well-earned and painstakingly-crafted-by-creative-daughters presents today and expressing my appreciation to my dads, we dropped the Lone Star Girl off for a week at the Girl Scout camp that is located about 45 miinutes from our town. I have taken the Lone Star Girl and her troop camping there before and she has been on a couple of Me-And-My-Guy weekend camp-outs there and a number of day trips there, but last summer, when she was nine, was the first time she stayed there for a week without us. I'm a pretty attached-at-the-hip mom, so I had a hard time believing that I had actually allowed her to do that, but she had a great, great time. This summer, my little cousin who is her age is her buddy and my little cousins who are 14 and 17 are C-I-T and counselor there. I know they will have a great time and we pick them up on Friday. I have already written her a couple of letters so she would have mail waiting for her when she arrived. I always get choked up when we drive up the camp road and see the sign that says "Caution: Future World and Local Leaders At Work and Play". Girl Scout camp, with all its late-night homesickness, bugs and sunburns, is such a...really, really wonderful experience. I will really miss my girl, but it is so good for them to get to be outdoors doing so much for themselves and being so bold...the units are called "Sacagawea" "Flying High", "Bar Nothing", "Destarte"'s just a wonderful place.

Happy Father's Day to the Good Ones

And they are many. Every year, whether they are dads who are working at home in order to care for their children or dads who are working away from home to keep a shelter over their children's heads, more and more fathers become increasingly involved in the emotional and day-to-day lives of their children and reap the amazing benefits while shouldering the bewildering responsibilities that all parents must face. Yay, Dads. Happy Father's Day, Dads. God love you.

And I do mean, that, truly...but it is very hard for me to accentuate the positive on this one. Until my career change of this summer, I spent every summer of the last almost-dozen years compiling a behemoth of an annual report on the activities of my little delinquency prevention agency - pages and pages of statistics about the children we worked with and the results we achieved. The children we helped back on to the track of safety and citizenship were a varied bunch...from the drugged out kids of the wealthy and well-known elite to the poorest of youth without food or clothing. A host of different things brought them through our doors and it took a host of different services and supports to help them, but one thing was very constant in most of their lives - absent fathers, if they were lucky and ones that beat the shit out of them if they weren't. It rather ticked me off. The mothers were rarely absent. Nine out of ten times, the mothers were there, showing up, being condescended to by courts and schools, being judged and found wanting, tsked at about their poor choices, bad parenting, how it was all their fault...but they were there. And they took it. They kept trying, even when their kind of trying never seemed to pass muster for anyone. Not the dads, though. It was always a weird surprise when a dad came to a case management appointment; mostly they just didn't. Usually, the ones who did show were hiding something and trying to keep us off track. Not always, of course. There were some great fathers we worked with over the years, ones who went through hell and back to redeem their troubled babies...but not many. Not too many at all.

I see little evidence that a critical mass of fathers are approaching proportional representation on the less troubled shores of parenting, either. There are plenty of 'Room Mothers" in our schools who are holding down outside jobs in addition to all of their parental involvement, but I have only met one "Room Dad" (and he moved to Austin - hey, Doug! Happy Father's Day! You rock!). My mama-friends still make jokes about their husbands not knowing their kids' teachers' names or their pediatricians' names...but they are the kind of jokes you make when you are really pissed off...and how come it's just the mamas who are around enough to make friends? My own husband has crept gradually into equal-parenting status over the last two years (our oldest is almost 11) and most people behave as if his level of involvement merits rewards and parades. Really. I think the Girl Scouts may be erecting a statue in his honor soon, but I still had to post on the refrigerator a list of things he needed to make sure to do with the girls every day while he is home with them this summer (he is having the most trouble with feeding them 3 meals a day and sees absolutely no reason why they ever need to brush their hair). is hard, just hard, not to feel in many ways that dads need to get their acts together already - big time. I try not to be that way, but all this life experience keeps getting in the way.

My frustrations aside, though, I know that most dads are working on it. My husband was always one of those "involved dads" that the moms go gaga over but the change from playing-with-kid involvement to reliably-caring-for-kids involvement that has happened in the last two years has astounded me. More and more dads, even if I have only ever met one in my whole life other than summer-teacher ones like my husband now is, are staying home with their kids and even more wish that they could. When they are involved, dads bring a richness to their children's lives that is precious and priceless - a security and confidence and sense of worth that the poorly fathered rarely attain. My perennial, statistical report-driven anger over bad fathering aside, there are lots of great fathers out there and I appreciate them and all that they do for their families. Happy Father's Day to them...may their numbers keep growing until all these other children have good fathers by their sides as well. Please.

Good fathering sites:

Dads And Daughters

Rebel Dad

Friday, June 16, 2006

Lone Star Facts On Fridays

The major industries of Texas are (in no particular order) petroleum and natural gas, farming, tourism, steel, insurance and banking.

Family Swim Night

The Lone Star Girl has swim practice in the evenings at a nearby city pool from 7pm until 8pm. On Thursdays, the pool has Family Swim Night after practice, so we all went last night. It was the first time I had been in the pool since I broke my arm and it was fun. I pushed the Lone Star Baby around in her floatie and she had a great time telling me she was kicking and taking turns holding the swim noodle with her sister (Sissy turn!).The Lone Star Girl and Lone Star Pa engaged in a lot of horseplay and silliness and I even got to swim a few laps in the lane. It was fun. We stayed until the Lone Star Baby started shivering and then went home. I like being at the pool with the busy community all around us. I am glad we go to a city pool instead of a private swim club like most of the LSG's friends. We have always valued education and struggled to send the Lone Star Girl to very good schools and it has resulted in a bit of economic disconnect. We are middle class, but on the lower side - the struggling middle class as the census says. We've had lots of economic troubles, some quite serious, but have always had everything we need and more. Surrounded at school by families who are wealthy (the LSG goes to a public school but because it is a GT school that required taking a test in kindergarten to be admitted as a first-grader, many of the other kids are ones who went to expensive pre-schools that prepared them for the test. The LSG went to expensive pre-schools, too, since I had to work and wanted her in the best care, but not to the test-prep. ones - not my thing), the Lone Star Girl has a bit of a skewed economic view at times. She often feels poor in relation to her friends. She knows we are not poor, but she still feels that way, especially in terms of time since I have always had to work. I like to participate in more activities at our actual economic level - like going to the city pool - so the kids can get a better view of reality than they do at school.

Yoga Attempt

The Lone Star Girl has expressed an interest in yoga for the past few months. She kept finding articles about it in magazines and trying poses on the floor. A few weeks ago, the Central Library had an exhibit of posters on Hinduism which I took her to see, knowing that the Jains would really interest her. She found some yoga books at the exhibit, checked them out and started doing more exercises at home. I was pleased at the interest, being sort of on the look-out for a healthy and constructive hobby that will really hook the Lone Star Girl, and thought she could use the help with focus and relaxation that yoga might provide. A couple of weeks ago, I took her to the Yoga Center that recently opened in our community to find out about classes. There are no kids' classes but she was welcomed to the beginning adult classes, which are only $5 a class for drop-ins. Someone at the Center suggested a few different kinds that she might want to try and we went home with the Lone Star Girl in very happy and excited mode. Last week, Lone Star Pa dropped her off at a Hatha Flow class. When I got home, she was very sore and saying she didn't think she liked yoga after all. I encouraged her to try the other class she had been interested in and reminded her that most physical disciplines will make one sore at first until one gets in shape for it and she agreed. Yesterday, I took her to the Gentle Yoga class, but afterwards, she said that yoga wasn't for her. She only likes the guided relaxation at the end. I offered to let her try their meditation class, but she said she could lay on the floor at home. So much for yoga! I am still proud of my girl, though - going in there all alone with a bunch of strange adults to try something that was totally her own idea. She's growing up!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Transferring Status?

The Lone Star Baby has been very interested in her own little mental exercise lately. She will pour her drink down her front on accident (one example) and observe aloudshirt mojado. Then she will touch her shirt and say hand mojado. Then, she will touch my face and say mama cheek mojado. She is so intent about it. I think all babies are scientists.

Independent Reader

Tuesday was supposed to be library day. It is the day that Lone Star Pa is taking the girls to our branch library in the mornings so that he can take the Lone Star Baby to storytime. I found out last week that the Central Library was going to have a group for 9- to 12-year-olds on Tuesday afternoons, to read and discuss Holes and have refreshments and hang out. After discussing it with the Lone Star Girl, I had Lone Star Pa trek out there with the girls yesterday so that she could participate. The Central Branch is near where I have my ed. prep. classes and I usually spend an hour on my class reading there everyday. We finished class sort of early yesterday, so I headed over to the library, thinking also that I might meet up with mi familia. They were there but the Lone Star Girl was not with the group. She was upstairs in the local history room, buried in an Alice book (all she wants to read lately). Seems she doesn't want a tween group after all.

So Much For Dos

I asked the Lone Star Baby how old she was yesterday and she said eighty-nine.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Tween Time

After a weekend spent rather focused on the Lone Star Baby's birthday (and the weekend before having been rather focused on our water heater breaking), I spent some adolescent-drama-prevention time with the Lone Star Girl today. I needed to spend the morning in some serious job search work, but after I had done what I could there, I took her with me to the bookstore where she likes to hang out and did my reading for this week's classes there while she read stuff in the children's area. Then we had lunch together and went to see Hoot at the dollar theater (more on that later). We also got her signed up for Girl Scout day-camp in July (she's going to the resident camp in a week). It was really nice, but not, apparently, that preventative as she is currenty having a meltdown in her room because I insisted that she go to bed about a minute and a half ago at 10:43pm. Ah, well.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Happy Birthday, Lone Star Baby!!!

Today is the Lone Star Baby's second birthday! I can hardly believe that it has been two years! She got a lot of presents from us that I had acquired bit by bit over the year, as I had not, until this weekend, done a good job of clearing out her baby toys and arranging an appealing space for her. It did not seem that important when she was spending most of her waking hours in a high-quality Montessori community, but this summer is another thing entirely. Now, her area in the living room is well-prepared for her with plenty of stimulating, developmentally appropriate things (like Ms. Potato Head!!) that are well-organized, and plenty of art supplies (block colors, modeling beeswax, paper, stickers, muffin cups, carboard tubes) so her brain will not rot away. Whew. She loves her presents and spent most of the day playing with them. My dad came over for cupcakes (mom-baked - I'm like that for a few short years, then it wears off - chocolate with white icing and sprinkles, two candles on the baby's) and ice cream and then the playtime continued. With no nap, she still stayed up until after ten! I think she had a good birthday! My sweet girl!

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Today is Lone Star Pa's birthday, but even though we haven't had his cake yet, my mind is on tomorrow, when the Lone Star Baby turns two. (Two!) Today, she learned how to hold out her index finger and her thumb (like an "L") and say dos! I cannot believe that my baby is growing up so fast - she is still mostly baby to me!


I know that Lone Star Pa and the Lone Star Girl have been indulging in some forbidden-television-watching-around-the Lone-Star-Baby when I come home from school and the baby is saying:

Star Trek! Star Trek, Mama! Quark was not hitting any people! No hitting Quark! Quark was laying down! Quark was not hitting any people!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Lone Star Facts On Fridays: The Name of Texas

Texas takes its name from the word Tejas, used by the Caddo Indians of Texas to describe their group of tribes. It means those who are friends.


The Lone Star Baby has for a long time been very big on displaying her affection through kisses and eskimo kisses, big, in your face smiles and the like...but she only recently started to spontaneously exclaim I love you!

It is very sweet.

Monday, June 05, 2006

June's YA Pick

My YA Pick for June is The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales. That title would generally not have convinced me to pluck a book from the library shelf, but for some reason (desperation? wrestling it away from the Lone Star Baby? I don't actually remember), I did check it out and I am very glad that I did. This book is a novel-in-stories about Sofia, a girl from the barrios of McAllen, Texas who has big dreams that take her to a boarding school in Austin...but never truly away from her family, or her "solar system of comadres" who have taught her the importance of being a good comadre and finding out how she is supposed to use her gifts to make the world a better place.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Summer Fruits....

They are back! Watermelons and cherries and the green and yellow mangos that are better than the red and yellow ones we usually have, strawberry papayas...I love summer!