Sunday, July 30, 2006

Un Otro July Pick: Becoming Naomi Leon

Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan is the story of a girl named Naomi and her little brother who live a simple life in a trailer park with their grandmother and some loving neighbors. Life is not always easy, but it is good, until their long-absent mother shows up to stir up their emotions and threaten their future. The children's grandmother takes extreme steps to save Naomi, which result in the children finding more love and family to sustain them, but ultimately it is quiet Naomi who must to learn to find her voice and speak up for the life she needs.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Babytalk's Breast Cover

The current issue of Babytalk magazine has a cover that has people talking. It is a close-up of a baby's head nursing in which you can see breast and baby. They have gotten a lot of flack from women who apparently think that their husbands and sons will be deeply scarred by exposure to a breast. I wonder where these women keep their menfolk secluded so that they will not be damaged by the deluge of popular media and fashion featuring bra- and bikini-clad breasts that show more than this photo (which shows a good bit) even approaches showing, what with the baby's head covering the nipple and all. There's tons more of that to see out in public than there is public breastfeeding, or even public depictions of breastfeeding.

Somehow, I bet they don't even give that much thought.

For all of the misplaced ardor of people claiming that breasts are sexual (a social construct, people, and one that many cultures would consider nauseating) and therefore private, people only seem to get in a tizzy when breasts are being used for their God-given purpose of nursing a child. No one seems to care very much when they really are flaunted as sexual objects, but people seem mortally offended when they are being used to keep babies healthy. Does anyone else think this is insane?

Very few women are going to be able to keep up breastfeeding for the duration needed by children for maximum health and development if they feel they cannot do it in public. Women stop nursing and babies become more prone to all kinds of illness, not to mention that they lose IQ points, because of these Puritanical attitudes about breastfeeding in public. People who give breastfeeding mothers this kind of shit should be ashamed of themselves for the true harm they are doing to defenseless little babies and to our nation's future. They really should be.

Jesus was breastfed, people, and he was doubtless breastfed in front of shepherds and Magi and a whole caravan of folks all the way to Egypt and possibly all the way back to Nazareth. Was Mary wrong to do this? I don't think so. Get over it.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Unicorn Ship: A Sci-Fi Fantasy by the Lone Star Baby

The Lone Star Baby has been dragging around a glory of stuffed unicorns that her generous older sister accumulated over the years. She say their names are Bonitos and that they are all Mommies. She is currently in a spaceship (laundry basket) with them and is instructing them to all say arriba! so they can blast off. She says they are wearing their seat belts.

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Whooping Cranes

The Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of the only flock of whooping cranes in North America.

I have taken a boat tour to go see them and they were pretty cool.

Little Peaceniks

Last night, the Lone Star Girl and I were making signs on the floor for the Peace Vigil later that night. The Lone Star Baby came over and said I make sign, too! and started drawing on a piece of paper with a crayon. Guess we'll get her FBI file started even sooner than her sister's was!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Montessori Girl

In a music session at the conference, the Lone Star Baby made a shaker out of a big plastic juice bottle, colored straws, strings, a rubber band, two little plastic egg halves and pieces of chopsticks and a dowel. She managed to get the top off at home, though, and likes it much better as a material than as a shaker. She wants to sit for ages shaking the contents out onto the floor and then painstakingly, with deep concentration, putting each piece back into the bottle. Then she dumps it all out and starts over. She has to work really hard to get the strings in and the egg halves out. Her focus on this activity is is her work, just like the materials at school. Little Montessori girl.

The LLL-Texas Conference

The conference was over the weekend and it was so wonderful. I have been a member of La Leche League for eleven years but I had never gone to a state conference before. It is hard for us to afford motels and such and this was the first time it was ever here in Corpus Christi, thanks to two of our wonderful local Leaders who organized it and the other wonderful Leaders who helped pull it off. It was wonderful.

It was so wonderful to be around so many mothers and babies and fathers and children, all of whom were trying to change the world a little bit in their gentle way. I got to hear one of the Founding Mothers speak and that really brought home how much has changed in the world since LLL came into being, how LLL has changed the world in many, many ways in the last fifty years. All our lives, we hear about history in terms of war, as if that is the main or only significant force in people's lives; it is always good to get a taste of how herstory is full of important events that have nothing to do with violence. The Founding Mother talked about HIV research, physician education and a host of topics. She told us about how, not so very long ago, LLL fathers would handcuff themselves to hospital gurneys so they could be with their wives during childbirth, a thing that was strictly forbidden in most hospitals less than forty years ago.

Over two days, I went to sessions on active-alert children, Texas legislation, slow weight gain & failure to thrive, creative writing and publishing, latching-on and breastfeeding problems in the first forty-eight hours, babywearing, what small families can learn from big families, and formula marketing. I also heard author Hilary Flower speak on gentle discipline, not the annoying how-to sort of parenting advice you hear so much of, but an understanding presentation on the ways our personal dfficulties (being run down, anger, not accepting ourselves because we make mistakes, etc.) make it hard for us to parent the way we individually want to at times and the importance of being gentle with ourselves if we want to be gentle with our children. This was the first time I ever got to meet Hilary in person (she has written for Lone Star Ma) and see her gorgeous children and that was great fun.

While I went to most of these sessions, Lone Star Pa took the girls to sessions where they did arts and crafts and songs and had fun. We would meet up in between for nursing and visiting and sometimes I took the baby into a session with me if she needed a nap or her sister would wander in to sit on the floor and lean against my legs for awhile. There was also a playroom for the kids and a bookstore and a silent auction and tons of exhibitors with cool booths.

I was supposed to be doing evening registration on Satuday night, but after I had been there for awhile and no one came to register so late, the Leaders shut down the registration booth and encouraged me to catch the rest of the session on latch-on problems that they were going to attend. They said I would love the speaker. The lactation consultant and scholar who spoke about latch-on problems was so amazingly brilliant that I told Lone Star Pa that I thought we would need to marry her, but he reminded me that the government won't let us - sniff. She was really amazing.

On Sunday afternoon, the conference ended with a slide show of pictures from the many moments of the conference and a rousing performance, complete with props, of Down By The Bay by many of the little children in attendance. It was really wonderful. A big shout out to our Leaders for doing this and a big shout out to LLL for always being there for moms and kids: thanks!!!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Home Base

"Houston" was the first word ever spoken from the moon by humans, and was spoken on July 20, 1969.

Peace Vigil

Last night, the Lone Star Girl and I made our way out to a peace vigil that was taking place at a Methodist Church on the bayfront. There were a lot of people there considering that it was planned in two days and the organizers, from the local Tikkun community, said they will probably start having one each week. We were the only Quakers who made it this time but I expect that our Meeting will get involved. A lot more of the people who drove by seemed supportive and encouraging than was the case during the vigils and demonstrations we attended in the days leading up to the Iraq war. I don't think very many people want this awful mess anymore.

Sea-Child and the Wave-Daughters Adventure

I took my girls to the beach again yesterday but we went out to the Padre Island National Seashore this time, where you have to park at a parking lot and haul your stuff in instead of driving right up to the place where you are going to settle down by the water. It is very pristine and nice but a little too difficult to do very often if it is just us going, not to mention expensive. My brother and sister had gotten a seven-day pass to the park when they were in town and left it for us to use so we did. It was fun.

The Lone Star Baby was still quite fearless about the water and scared me a couple of times with her independence, yanking away from me to stand up by herself in the shallows and getting knocked down for a split-second by waves that happened along at just those moments. She really loves the water. She was a little cautious about the sand for awhile this time, remembering with concern that there are "little animals" in it, but she soon decided it was fun, too. The Lone Star Girl was a bit whiny about having to stick to the shallows because of her sister but she had a lot of fun, too. She liked the backdrop of the dunes and the beauty of Malaquite beach.

We have another little seaweed scientist baby. She was quite taken wth the sargassum and the little air bladders that keep it afloat. When the Lone Star Girl was in the second grade, she did a science project on sargassum and beach erosion that won second place (sargassum does help prevent beach erosion) so I guess seaweed-love runs in the family. I like it myself. The Lone Star Baby spent a busy stretch picking up clumps of sargassum that had washed up onto the sand and throwing them back into the waves. When the Lone Star Girl realized that this might extend the weed's lifespan, she started doing it, too. They had a good time with that for awhile and then we went on a seashell-observation walk.

Neither of them wanted to leave when it was time. It was a great day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The School Supply Shop

Yesterday was the day of the dreaded School Supply Shop. Those parents among you whose children are yet small enough that this remains a distant rite of comes! It comes!

I had seen the ads in the paper on Sunday indicating that spiral notebooks had made it down to ten cents at Target...that always means it is Time. You do not want to go before Time when only Wal-Mart and H-E-B have marked a tantalizing sprinkling of items down. Not everything is cheap yet, then, although that timeframe does have the advantage of avoiding the hordes. Once Target gets the notebooks down, it is Time, though; everything is as cheap as it is going to get. Very shortly after Time, the stores run out of the precious spiral notebooks and two-pocket folders with brads, so it is important to be swift. When the stores resupply these items, all school supplies cost about seven times as much as they cost when it is Time.

We did the bulk of the shop at Target this year (H-E-B and Wal-Mart are just as good when it is Time) and the hordes were still all in a mad frenzy. Going on Tuesday instead of on Sunday morning cost us, because they were already out of all two-pocket folders with brads except for purple ones and they need to be different colors for different subjects. We got one purple, knowing we would have to search other stores for the other six we needed. We went down the district's fifth grade supply list and got everything on it except the missing folders and then moved on to the things-we-knew-we-needed-from-personal-experience that were not on the list. The Lone Star Girl's school is seriously big on sharpies so we needed a couple of "fine" ones and a couple of "ultra-fine" ones. Target didn't have the "ultra-fine" ones. We needed book covers. The Lone Star Girl talked me into getting red pens at Target instead of embarking on an extensive quest of arcane places for the red pencils on the list which can never, ever be found at any of the main hunting grounds. I had already acquired for her one of those white erasers that also are never in evidence. We got her a new lunchbox to replace her old, torn one but I refused to budge on making her use her old backpack for another year. I also got a bunch of supplies for my classroom like the good teacher I hope to be.

It went okay. No one ran over us although it was close a few times. The Lone Star Baby was ensorceled by the crowd and behaved well until falling asleep in a heap in her carseat, worn out by the adventure. We dropped her off at home with Lone Star Pa and soldiered on to Office Depot where we acquired the needed folders and sharpies at the prices of last resort.

Then we were finished. Whew. Until next July...

July Herstory: The Seneca Falls Convention

On July 19th and 20th in 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention - the country's first women's rights convention - was held in Seneca Falls, New York.

Yay Congress

You don't hear a whole lot of that from me this past dozen years or so, but the House actually rejected the recent Constitutional amendment meant to ban gay marriage, a show of decency I was afraid to hope our Constitution is once more safe from institutionalized bigotry for at least a moment in time. Go, House!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

GMA's Breastfeeding In Public Story

Lone Star Pa informed me this morning that he watched a segment on GMA about public breastfeeding which stated that something like 57% of Americans polled stated that seeing a woman breastfeeding in public made them uncomfortable and that over 70% said that they thought women should stay at home to breastfeed. I hate to be a snob but I often wonder why so many Americans are such dumb-fucks...I just can't help it. Either they are stupid or it is a Taliban sort of thing and, as the mother of girls, I really prefer to think they are stupid for my own personal peace of mind, if those are my choices. I mean: we all know that breastfeeding is infinitely healthier for babies than any of the alternatives and that babies need to be breastfed for a minimum of a year if at all possible, preferably longer in this world of daycare, close living conditions and antibiotic-resistant bacteria (and just the natural unfolding of nature, really, as weaning usually occurs much later when it is child-led, although there is a lot of variation). There are a lot of things in this culture that make such a goal impossible for a lot of families, but that is what we are shooting for, in terms of public health.

So what? Mothers should just sit at home for a year or more? Seclude ourselves as unclean? I am sorry but I just can't condone that kind of misogynistic shit. The polled Americans either need to educate themselves or go do something else to themselves as far as I am concerned. Yeah - I'm a little worked up; it's about my daughters' freedom, after all.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Beach Visit!

One of my brothers and one of my sisters came down for a too-quick visit over the weekend. It was great to see them and...we went to the beach!!!

I know this is beyond pathetic, but we really haven't been to the real beach in the two years since the Lone Star Baby has been among us - just walking around the bayfront. This was due to a confluence of lazy reasons - there has been a lot of construction on and around the causeway to the island and the traffic flow was significantly altered for a time. Lone Star Pa wouldn't come with us and I was nervous about finding my way through the construction and dealing with both girls alone. No more excuses, though! The way is clear again and I am able to handle both girls. We are going to get in at least a few more times this summer and then next summer, when I am off - at least twice a week!!

It was great fun. I would have expected the Lone Star Baby to be a little scared of the great maw of the ocean, but she had no fear of the "green water" and was eager to get right in it. She "jumped the waves" and played in the water almost ceaselessly but also made time to dig in the sand with some new sand toys and watch the "little animals" burrow back down into the wet sand after getting seined. The Lone Star Girl also had a wonderful time in the water and on the sand and got to visit with her Auntie and Uncle. My brother and sister stayed longer but I only stayed a couple of hours with the girls because the Lone Star Baby was starting to loll about on my shoulder - quite happily, though - by then, and I knew she was plumb worn out.

When we got home, she was really grumpy-tired and had an urgent need to nurse but then she perked right up. We got cleaned up and then my brother and sister came over for dinner. After dinner, I got the Lone Star Baby to bed while the Lone Star Girl accompanied her Auntie and Uncle on an ice cream run and then we played a couple of games of Cranium.

It was a great day!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Day-camp with the Girl Scouts

The Lone Star Girl went to a little day-camp offered by the Girl Scouts at the YWCA on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It was all about fitness and nutrition, which she is rather rebelliously nonplussed about at present, but she still had lots of fun.

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Presidents from Texas

Four U.S. presidents have been born in Texas: Dwight D. Eisenhower, LBJ and the current dynasty.

(Look for another in 2032...)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

La Leche League Texas State Conference!

For the first time ever, La Leche League Texas is having its state conference in Corpus Christi (sparkling city by the sea, folks!) on the weekend of July 22-23. There will be lots of great conferences on a variety of topics of interest to parents and health professionals and people who work with families in any capacity. Hilary Flower, the author of Adventures in Gentle Discipline, will even be speaking! There is still plenty of room, so post a comment if you need me to hook you up to the registration folks. Thanks!

July Herstory: So Close We Could Taste It

On this day in 1984, Representative Geraldine Ferraro of New York was chosen to run for Vice President of the United States on the Democratic Party ticket with Walter Mondale.

Swim Season Winding Down

The Lone Star Girl swam in the regional swim meet on Saturday and did very well. Her swimming has progressed so much since last summer! Tonight was the end-of-the-summer-league swim party, although there are still a few more swim practices. It was fun but we did not stay much past dusk as the pool area quickly became some sort of horror movie involving swarms of mosquitos. The joy of having finally gotten rain...

Monday, July 10, 2006

July Herstory: Mary McLeod Bethune

Today is the birthday of African-American educator Mary McLeod Bethune, 1875-1955, who was a minority affairs advisor to FDR.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Robot Arm

We have automated trash collection in our neighborhood, where a big truck comes by and picks up the standard-issue trash receptacle from our curb with a robot arm, empties it into the truck, then sets it back down and drives off, twice a week. One of those days is Saturday, so we are usually home for it. The Lone Star Baby loves that robot arm! When she hears the truck coming outside, she starts squealing robot! robot! and rushes to the window to watch it. Sometimes we go outside and watch it. Once we followed it all around the neighborhood.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Friday

Texas is the only state to enter the Union by treaty rather than by territorial annexation.


Do It For The Zine, Mamas!

As many of you know, Lone Star Ma is published rather irregularly due to the fact that my day job(s) and family responsibilities leave me little business-hours time to pound the pavement for the advertisers that bring in the money for the printer. My schedule is not likely to let up much until next summer, and then only for summers, so I am trying to figure out something that will work. The way I see it, advertising is advertising, whether it is print or online, so please do not consider me a sell-out (don't hate, y'all) if I end up getting some of those little advertising strips on the blog and the magazine's sites in an attempt to pay for printing. I think they pay me a tiny amount when people click on them. If they are even brave enough to advertise in radical Texas mama-land. We'll see!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July YA Pick: Finding Miracles

I have the feeling that I am going to be reading many more books by Julia Alvarez. Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez is the story of a young woman who was adopted into an American family as a baby and who has tried to ignore what little is known about her heritage since she was a little girl. When a young man from the country of her birth begins attending her high school and his family is befriended by hers, all of the feelings and questions she has suppressed begin coming to the surface. She finds that she must follow her feelings and reclaim her past, the parts that are good and the parts that are frightening to her and to her family, in order to claim her own power for the future. A beautiful book. It also made me want to go buy lots of little milagros and do art projects with them. I don't know why.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Check it out, por favor!

New post at Daughter And A Movie.

They Should Have Invited Us

On this day in 1876, suffragists crashed the Centennial Celebration in Independence Hall. Their reason for crashing the party was to challenge the Vice President about the federal government's opposition to the right of women to vote. Bad federal government. Very bad.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Independence Day Movie

Lone Star Pa checked this Will Smith movie about space invaders out from the library and we watched it. I had never seen it before. I cannot believe that the president nuked Houston. I mean.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Almost-Grown Girl

The Lone Star Girl is about 4.5 inches shorter than I am and closing fast. When I peek in on her asleep at night, she is a long, lanky creature who fills her twin-sized bed from end to end. Her feet are as big as mine and she steals my shoes. Her hands are as big as mine. Where does the time go?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Future Piranha

The Lone Star Girl's swim team is called the Piranhas (slogan: eat my bubbles). The Lone Star Baby thinks she's ready to join up. When we took her to Family Swim Night on Thursday, she noticed the people diving and jumping off the diving board at the other end of the pool. I dive, she kept saying, no matter how many times we told her she was too little. Then she would throw herself onto her belly in the water (in our arms and no face in the water, of course) and kick her legs and paddle her arms and say I swimming! This continued until she was shivering so much we had to insist upon going home. We have finally gotten the rain our area needs this weekend, and in massive amounts, so the dips in sidewalk and street are all flooded today and we are sort of stranded at home. The Lone Star Baby looked outside at the flowing streams in the yard and said I go swimming! I go swimming! She really likes the water! I think she will be ready for swimming lessons next summer, even though she will just be turning three and I would normally wait until she was turning four, just so it would be easier to follow directions and actually get it learned. I know some people put two-year-olds in swim lessons, but she is really just a baby. I think she is too small for it to be good for her ears to be submersing her and she would not really understand about holding her breath and definitely would freak out at being handed off to a stranger - so those early lessons are not for us. Next year is soon enough and then only really if she is three-year-old sized - she is very small for her age now and often taken for a year younger than she is unless she is talking, and I do think it is important for their little ear passages to be big enough before they start getting submerged so that they don't get lots of infections. I can tell that she will have her day on the diving board eventually, though!