Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I love vegetables. I love to eat them. I have a hard time thinking of any I have tried that I do not like, although I did not feel that way as a sprout. I do not have time, however, for a lot of chopping and cooking in my life. Enter the lovely steam-in-the-bag-in-the-microwave folks.

Thanks to this miracle of the modern grocery, I can now have tasty vegetables with almost no work. It's a gorgeous thing. Except for the pthlalates in those plastic bags, probably. Oh, and, yeah - I read Barbara Kingsolver's book and am pretty sure that everything I eat is a mortal sin now. So...anyway....

Monday, January 28, 2008


Sweet dadoir by Philip Lerman. Yes. I am using the word "dadoir". Good for the goose, good for the gander, people.

Friday, January 25, 2008

100 Days

On the upside, today also marked the 100 Days point at the Lone Star Baby's school. That is 100 days that she has been in the Casa de Ninos! Seems like only yesterday that she was just joining the Toddler Community - and now she's one of the "big kids" (ha - sort of- she's probably still smaller than the toddlers)! The children brought 100 Days projects to school today.

The Lone Star Baby chose to count pennies for her 100 days project and we taped them to the inside of a box she had colored to take to school today. She said two other kids did pennies, one did stickers, one did acorns, two did a necklace of beads and that the other ninos weren't there today (that probably means that's all she remembers or wants to enumerate).

I remember two years that the Lone Star Girl did 100 Days projects in school. She did acorns during a preschool year and marshmallows in kindergarten.

My big girls.

Invention Fair and Other Middle School Blahs

Today was the Invention Fair at the Lone Star Girl's school - during school, and I couldn't go. I am damn hyper about prioritizing the kids' stuff and this is probably the biggest thing I have missed due to employment. The Lone Star Girl swears she doesn't care (and I think it is probably true - she doesn't even want me in her new clean room), but I felt really badly about it. The invention she and her group made was football gear with a water pack and tube attached, so that thirsty ballplayers have a source of hydration at the ready. They had to make a prototype, film a commercial, design a logo and brochure, and make a board very similar to a science fair board. Today they presented it all at a fair at school. They worked hard on it, and spent several weekends scurrying around together getting stuff done. The Lone Star Girl says (in response to my guilty interrogation) she would estimate that half the parents went. Knowing her classmates and the unusual preponderance of stay-at-home moms in her program, I imagine that guess was shaded to preserve my feelings.

The second semester started this week and, although the Lone Star Girl had wanted a full year of PE and a full year of Theatre Arts for her electives (I could not sell her on Exploratory Spanish), what she got was a full year of PE and a semester of Theatre Arts followed by a semester of Technology Applications, which has now begun. She tried to get transferred to Art, but couldn't.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pulse-Pounding Primaries

The Lone Star Girl has decided that she supports Senator Clinton in the upcoming primary election. While she is normally very interested in politics for a sixth grader, I am pretty sure that, this time, her choice was based entirely on the fact that Senator Clinton was recently endorsed by Stan Lee.

In which primary are you voting? Have you decided on the candidate you will be voting for? Why did you choose that primary and that candidate?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I slipped out of work at a reasonable time yesterday so that I could walk around the neighborhood with the Lone Star Girl while she took some more cookie orders. Orders are due at the troop's Friday night meeting. Then there will be a quick break before mid-February (cruelest month) brings the tasks of delivery, collections and booth sales. Bleh.

Quoth the Toddler...

The Lone Star Baby has finally started telling stories that are not about Dora! Granted, most of them do mention Cinderella - but that seems to be more a name she favors than a reference to the literary/cartoon Cinderellas. She has started coloring little "books" and then "reading" the stories she has made in them to us. This part is deeply charming.

Unfortunately, her stories seem to be about people falling over waterfalls, burning in fires and being orphaned by big winds.

We are torn between charmed and...creeped out. Remember Wednesday Addams? Queen Morgause of the Arthurian legends? Edgar Allen Poe? Meet the Lone Star Baby.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Marching Towards the Future

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the daughters and I went out to march in the annual commemorative march in our community. Today's weather, while still drizzly, was much better marching weather than last year, when I won the Bad Mother of The Year Award for Bringing The Youngest Child to March in Freezing Rain (in my head). This year, there were many more little kids, as it wasn't very cold. Our attempts to participate were not without hitches, however, as trying to do anything with kids in tow tends get complicated.

The Girl Scout flier said to meet at the church at 12:15 to catch the shuttle over to the Courthouse, from where we would march back to the church. We got there early, with a new-to-us stroller and plenty of goldfish crackers, and the first shuttle was leaving. Then the next, supposed-to-be-last, shuttle came a little before noon. Obviously, the Girl Scout flier was off. We were still missing lots of Girl Scouts so we asked if they might wait. They said they would come back one more time. They did and we boarded and got to the Courthouse a bit after people had started to march. With the stroller slowing me down, I brought up the very rear of the March and got back to the Church on the late side as well. I caught sight of some of my fellow teachers and students but couldn't do much more than wave. I thought I might see them afterwards, but the place where they were gathering for refreshments was down a bunch of stairs in a big crowd, so we decided not to try it with the stroller.

It was still a really good experience, though. The Lone Star Girl's troop represented local Girl Scouts with some other Junior Girl Scouts and a lot of Brownies from all over town. I love hearing the Lone Star Baby talk about Martin Luther King, Jr. and how he wanted peace and for everyone to be nice to everyone. At one point, she looked up at me and said Martin Luther King already died, right, Mommy? I told her he had and she looked so solemn. She has started to tell us that she cares about people and wants to help people, which is a big relief to us, since she often reminds us of Children of The Corn, in her charming way. I like to reinforce caring values with her as much as possible, and no one is a better example of caring than Martin Luther King, Jr.

The most beautiful little girls were dancing at the church and there were so many people there. It makes me cry, when I see these earnest children, and wonder what racism and poverty will make of their open hearts in a few short years. We must do more. We must do better.

We'll keep going to marches, and keep trying to teach our kids that there is still so much to do to make this world a fair and peaceful place for everyone.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Great Room Clean-Out

We are all very, hopelessly messy people in this house. The main difference between me and the other inhabitants of Lone Star House is that I realize when the house crosses the line into filth and do try to invoke force to get it back to my decidedly low minimum standards, while the rest would frankly be happy to wear the same clothes for ten days in a row (although Lone Star Pa always makes sure we have clean towels - an interesting priority system), buy new dishes instead of washing the old ones and never see the floor again. It's tough. Especially as I have no intention of caving to the age-old solution and just doing it all myself.

Anyway, the Lone Star Girl's room has been out of control for a very long time. I periodically insist that she clean it which usually results in her sitting in the midst of the mess, poking at it hopelessly and sullenly, through whatever weekend it might be until it's 1am on a school night and she begs me to let her go to sleep before school the next day. Slightly more successful attempts have seen her actually clear walkways on the floor, but that's about it. The combination of her laziness and resistance and the sheer magnitude of the job overwhelm her. And me.

The increasing academic rigor of the Lone Star Girl's classes at school have convinced me that this is no longer a small problem of my personal preference. She really needs an organized, private area in which to study. Our neighbors gave us a lovely old desk that their son outgrew, but we couldn't get it through the debris and into her room for the longest time. Yesterday we instituted Operation Clean Room, however, and now...a new life! I employed my baby sister to take the day and clean and organize the room with the Lone Star Girl. They moved furniture, picked up and organized, as well as filling about seven trash bags...with actual trash.

The desk got moved in and the room is...amazing. Even the Lone Star Girl has had to admit that it is much better this way.

I have made it clear that from here on out , the Lone Star Girl will have to get the room back to its current level of cleanliness before going to bed every night, so hopefully we can keep it this way. Eternal gratitude to the awesome Auntie Jazz!!!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Lone Star Ma Migas

Beat a dozen eggs with two cans of condensed cream of potato soup. Stir in somewhat less than 1 cup of grated cheese and three or four corn tortillas, torn into small pieces (the little ones can be kept busy for quite awhile tearing them up). Add spices to taste. Scramble on medium heat. Serve with salsa and tofu breakfast strips. Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Talking About Weaning

The discussion aspect of the nursing relationship is one of those joys that most of the early-weaning American population would never consider except when expressing how creepy they think it is to nurse kids who can talk...but it really is a joy.

The Lone Star Baby seemed determined to be pretty oblivious to the fact that she will one day wean until recently. I finally managed to get her to listen to that lovely old storybook, Maggie's Weaning, without feeling threatened by it. Now she asks me to read it often and we talk about how she will someday want to wean (when I'm four years old, she says) and how we will have a weaning party for her if she wants one and she can choose a cake for the party, like her sister did when she weaned. These sorts of conversations are how she gets used to the idea of weaning and comes around to seeing it as something that could be good someday.

Slowly, she is getting ready to blossom into her next stage.

What's your level?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Salad Garden

The Lone Star Girl and I took a nice walk through a pretty neighborhood down to where we could see the bay before First Day School today. I was admiring a little garden patch that someone had set up in their yard, one of those kind with stacked lumber forming a little raised triangle filled with soil, when I realized must be a salad garden. All of the lovely greenery looked to be edible greens. There were even a few dandelions thrown in. It was lovely cool is a salad garden? Really, I am so impressed.

Dia de Los Reyes Magos

Today is Epiphany, or El Dia de Los Reyes Magos, the last day of the Christmas Season. Our plastic Magi made it to the stable in Bethlehem and the girls each got one last little gift. We had King Cake after dinner and the Lone Star Girl got the baby. We did not, however, get to taking down the Christmas decorations yet. Oops. I'll miss the holidays.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Big Sister's Influence

The Lone Star Girl is at a schoolmate's house, working on a project. Lone Star Pa and I were sitting at the kitchen table with the Lone Star Baby, who was eating an orange from the tree in the yard, and discussing our plans for the afternoon. Lone Star Pa suggested that maybe after he picked up the Lone Star Girl, he could convince her to go with him to Wal-Mart to spend a gift certificate that a student had given him for Christmas. I laughed and told him she would never go for that. The three-year-old piped up:

LSB: Wal-Mart is a bad place.

Lone Star Pa and I looked at each other and stifled giggles about her sister's indoctrination of her.

LSB: Wal-Mart is a bad place because they don't pay people enough.

Lone Star Pa and I are in awe and wonder why sister's influence cannot extend to brainwashings that are more crucial to our daily routine.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Return of the YA Pick

I used to try to do a mini-review (really more a brief chirp of praise) on a YA book on the blog each month, but reached a point where I just wasn't keeping up. No promises, but I am trying to reinstate the feature this year. My "YA" Picks are actually in the upper elementary to YA range - any novel for older children/teens counts around these parts, not just the edgy teen stuff, although I like edgy.

January has two picks, The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt and Red Glass by Laura Resau.

The Wednesday Wars seems to have a pretty dumb plot at the outset - the only Presbyterian boy in his junior high class is convinced that his teacher hates him because she is stuck with him on Wednesday afternoons while all the other children in the class leave early for Hebrew School or Catechism. The teacher introduces him to Shakespeare and changes his life. Dumb-sounding, yes - but the book is so much more. Set during the Vietnam War, the protagonist's family is a microcosm of the shift that young people in the nation were making away from the values of their parents. It is about tolerance during times that try tolerance and love and family and is a beautiful book. I highly recommend it.

Red Glass is about a compassionate family that takes in a little boy after his parents die bringing him into the United States illegally. When taking him to visit, and possibly return to, his remaining family, his new sister finds courage and family in a world where there are real things to be afraid of - and to lose. A moving story.

All Things Are Labor

A couple of months ago now, I read Katherine Arnoldi's somewhat new book of short stories, All Things Are Labor. Ms. Arnoldi is the author of the 1998 kick-ass graphic novel, The Amazing True Story of A Teenage Single Mom, which is why I decided to read her new book. Some stories actually do overlap, but All Things Are Labor, which won the Juniper* prize for fiction, is a different sort of book.

The stories in this book really speak to me. They are about people who struggle on the fringes of mainstream life - single moms, the working class, the poor, the sick, people with different dreams, pacifists and artists. Some of the stories mention Mennonites and, as a Quaker, I am kind of a sucker for peace church stories, but these are truly good. The stories are highly literary in a way that occasionally, but not often, steps into the it-means-what-you-want-it-to-mean realm. That usually bugs me but not in this book. The stories are...exquisite.

Read it. Really. Do.

*If I ever have another daughter, I am naming her Juniper.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, Y'all! Here's to 2008! Let's make it our best year yet!

We sat around the table the last night and talked about resolutions. As a family, we resolved to exercise more and eat better, although I think we can exempt the Lone Star Baby from the exercise more part as she moves around plenty as it is, and eating better for her means eating more, which is not necessarily what it means for the rest of us!

My personal resolutions seemed to have three categories:

Stay more serene there.
Make career decisions that are financially sound for my family for now - we need to pay for a few things before I start worrying about being happy again (maybe this is more of a family resolution, actually).

Spend more time doing Lone Star Baby-centric activities.
Spend more time on activities that get the Lone Star Girl out in the world more.

Spend at least ten minutes on my writing/publishing at least five days a week (baby steps).

What resolutions or goals do you have for the New Year?