Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pop-Tart Love

I happened to bring a box of Pop-Tarts (strawberry, no frosting) home from the grocery store the other day, something I do every once in awhile for variety. Lone Star Pa happened to give one to the Lone Star Baby soon after. She hadn't had one in months and they made quite a new impression on her. She's been eating 4 or 5 a day for the last few days, which is big news for us since she usually eats very little and keeps us worrying and pleading. She even asked me, pen and paper in hand, how to spell I love Pop-Tarts. I went back to H-E-B for two more boxes today. Judge all you like - she's eating.

Monday, April 28, 2008


A little girl close in age to the Lone Star Baby, and perhaps a little older, was at story time tonight. She and the Lone Star Baby had that instant interest in each other that children sometimes will have and they sat very close to each other on the floor, trying to hold hands and mimic each other's gymnastics. The Lone Star Baby is very independent in most ways, but she definitely wants to be included when kids are playing and seems to have a feel for when she can be the Alpha-Baby and when, more often, she is an eager hanger-on, spending so much time in Montessori with friends who are a bit older as she does. When it was time for her favorite finger-play about A Baby, Ready For A Nap, she held up her pinkie finger to be the baby as she always has, with the same superior look at the rest of us poor clods who use the obviously unsuited index finger as our baby. Then she looked at her new little friend and switched to her index finger.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

April YA Picks

So that I won't get delinquent in posting monthly YA picks again, here are the best YA/Upper El books I have read since the last list:

  • For Now by Gayle Friesen is a sweet novel about a girl having a tough time in a blended family.
  • Beastly by Alex Flynn is an interesting modern teen take on the Beauty And The Beast faerie tale.
  • Waiting For Normal by Leslie Connor is an excellent book about an ill-cared for child which sort of falls into the foster child genre that I am a sucker for, but not quite. It is really good, but I do have one problem with it. I have noticed that it is part of a small rash of such novels in which the child being neglected by her flaky mother is saved by her well-meaning stepfather/father. May I just say that thngs rarely shake down like that in real life? Thank you.

Favorite Living Poet

April is Poetry Month and I have been too busy with school and the kids' stuff to do much of anything about it. In honor of it before it is over, though, let's talk about our favorite living poets.

My favorite living poet is Naomi Shihab Nye, a fellow Texan - at least, she has lived in Texas since I have known of her. I love her poetry about family and the Middle East, about Texas and just about herself. I first read her poetry when I was in a summer enrichment creative writing class the summer before high school began for me. Our teacher was a Dallas poet and he used Naomi Shihab Nye's Little Brother Poem as a form to get us to write sibling poems. We were all bawling our eyes out as we read our sibling poems - sensitive bunch. Later, the high school I went to in Dallas, Arts Magnet, held a writers' conference each year, and she came to read her poetry to us and hold workshops. I actually got to be in a workshop she taught and she told me she liked one my poems - beam!

Naomi Shihab Nye wrote some children's fiction later, which I read once I became a mother. Her husband's photography exhibit was once on display in our city as part of an amazing exhibit on teen pregnancy. When my MIL realized I was a fan, she told me that she had been part of a group at the University of North Texas that had sponsored a reading from Naomi Shihab Nye and had published a chapbook of the poetry from the reading. She brought me one of the chapbooks, autographed in a silver ink.

When Marigold was a baby, I submitted some poetry to
Naomi Shihab Nye, who is the poetry editor for the Texas Observer. She didn't take it, but she was very encouraging - I will try again.

Who is your favorite living poet?

123 Book Meme

Cloudscome tagged me for this book meme, and I was honored as I love to go read her gorgeous poetry and book reviews on A Wrung Sponge. Here were the rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.

Of course, she was reading an important book on race relations and I was reading YA fiction and sci-fi when she tagged me, but now that I have time to get to the computer I have a slightly better offering than my recent fluff. I am reading through Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth by the Boston Women's Health Collective to prepare for my work on a birth book I am writing.

Page 123, the fifth sentence and the three following:

"If you find out through diagnostic testing that your baby has a disability, deciding whether or not to terminate your pregnancy can be very difficult. Some women and families may believe that it is wrong to end a pregnancy, regardless of the potential problems a child may bring. Other women and families believe the decision depends on the particular condition involved and the family's circumstances. If you believe the decision depends on your situation, you will need to consider whether you think you and your child will have a life that you will both enjoy, despite the obstacles and limitations that a disability can impose."

Since I am not someone who could probably have an abortion, and since I have treasured many children with disabilities, that sounds cold to me, but I know it's complicated. I mostly like the book.

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Banner!

Check out the cool new banner that Alkelda The Gleeful of Saints And Spinners made for me! Thank you, Alkelda!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

First Day School Field Trip: Hinduism

The girls decided this year to study world religions. We originally thought we might piggyback onto the local UU's RE classes for this part of their religious education as the UU Church is sort of the expert at having teens study world religions, but it turned out that the local UU teens were studying UU traditions this past year, so we were on our own.

The girls decided to look at Hinduism first and we checked out a bunch of books from the library and tried to get a good overview. I had not thought that there was a Hindu temple in Corpus, but when I checked, I found that there is. I called and asked if we could visit their temple and learn a little bit about their religion and they were very welcoming. After having to re-arrange the date a few times when things came up on both sides, I was finally able to take our big girls to a ceremony celebrating the birthday of Hanuman, God of Travel, on Sunday.

The temple was beautiful. We learned to remove our shoes and wash our feet before entering and got to look at the shrines to different deities and listen to chanting for Hanuman. We got to watch as the priests, with the assistance of a sponsoring family, bathed Hanuman with water, milk, yogurt, honey and something else. They gave him beautiful new clothes and adorned him with flowers and bananas - it was amazingly beautiful. I felt very intrusive a lot of the time, as this ceremony was so special and a certain family was helping alone at first, without the rest of the congregaton, so I felt we shouldn't be there, even though we were invited. And we were rather obviously outsiders, so it was an amazing gift to be there. I do not belong to a religion in the mystic tradition for nothing - after awhile, I was very caught up in the ceremony. It was really beautiful...like being in a different world.

A few people showed us around and explained things to us. They would even have had us stay to eat with them if we could have - they were so welcoming. The nice person who arranged our visit talked to us a little bit about how the deities were really all aspects of one deity, the one we all worship...how all rivers flow to the sea, and we all experience God in our own way because God made us all to see Him differently...a gentle speech of tolerance. I told him that we feel that way as well.

I am so glad that our little First Day School was blessed with this beautiful experience.

Another Sisterhood-Is-Powerful Movie Night

Last night, we watched Fried Green Tomatoes, an old favorite but the junior-woman had not seen it yet. Tawanda!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Children's House and Braces

I took yesterday off because the Lone Star Baby's school was closed for conferences and the Lone Star Girl had her first orthodontic consultation in the afternoon.

The Lone Star Baby and I hung out together in the morning and after lunch, I took her to the babysitter who keeps her on work days when her school is closed, which is once a month or so. Then, I went to her school conference which was pleasant, except for the usual concerned comments on how little she eats. I share their concern but cannot force-feed her much more effectively than they can. I do what I can. I have taken to getting her milkshakes at drive-throughs when we run errands and am implementing a bedtime snack routine - I really try. The conference was mostly very pleasant, though. The Lone Star Baby is progressing well in her Practical Life Skills - her most recent accomplishment is cutting oranges in half, juicing them, pouring the juice for herself and a friend, straightening the area, inviting a friend to sit down with her for juice, then doing the dishes. I do love Montessori. She is also just beginning to choose some challenging academic work, like drawing, coloring and labeling the continents and making little books of the parts of the tree - I so love Montessori. Her teacher was pleased that she is starting to initiate such work, because she had previously had a tendency to mostly observe it, being, as the teacher said, very detailed, very perfectionist, very ... she said she didn't know the word in English. I refrained from offering very suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. I know what she means. The Lone Star Baby's a girl who must be right and fears mistakes - pretty weird in our messy family. The teacher seems much less concerned about it than I am, though, so that's good.

Then I picked the Lone Star Girl up from school early for her appointment ... insert ominous music here, please. Her teeth are quite crooked and our dentist has been gently suggesting that we go to the orthodontist for a little over a year, now. Our dentist is a laid-back guy who is not interested in fixing things that don't need fixing so I know he doesn't make such suggestions lightly. I waited awhile because our dental insurance pays nothing for orthodontics the first year you have it (which was last school year) and then gradually increases the percentage it will pay, albeit with a ridiculously low lifetime cap of 1K. This is our year when it will pay up to a third but no more than $500. We went to the big, factory-like practice with the TVs and the gaming consoles which he recommended. I expect it is a cheap place, as they go - volume - as our dentist is into saving people money.

The Lone Star Girl was about as bratty as I have ever seen her. She was rude to everyone.
I was appalled. She also told them, when they asked about her name, that she was named after the beverage. So charming. It took the ortho. a few tries to realize that her spiel on how much more she would care about the look of her smile when she got older was not going to go over well, but when she caught on, she quickly switched over to the more compelling medical necessity talk - as in you may live to be a hundred and you need a properly functioning bite if your teeth are to last. I'll admit that I myself have been a bit slow to feel that the new universality of braces is really necessary for people who don't have huge incomes (like ourselves) - it seems cosmetic and silly to me too, sometimes. I am no dentist, however, and feel I must bow to those who better know what they are doing - and so must Mimosa (who was named after the flowering tree in my late grandma's yard, thank you very much).

After a bit, it became clear to me that the Lone Star Girl was really very upset. I knew she didn't want braces, but she is not so wrapped up in appearances and I didn't realize it would be this traumatic. It became evident to me, though, as her behavior continued, that she is pretty freaked. And in no small part because of the money. That being the case, I sent her back to the waiting area while we discussed financing and tried to be gentle with her the rest of the evening. She got her molds made, has rubber band spacers between some teeth and an appointment to get the braces put on in mid-May if I can get her to the dentist for a cleaning before then. Lots to do, lots to cope with....

Friday, April 18, 2008

Support Teen Literature

Yesterday was Support Teen Literature Day. I was under the weather and overwhelmed and did not get around to posting, but I wanted to post a list of good YA/upper grade fiction I have read in the past few months, partly in support of Support Teen Literature Day, and partly in apology for not posting February and March YA picks. Here is my list:

  • Born To Rock by Gordon Korman
  • The Middle of Somewhere by J.B. Cheaney
  • To Catch A Mermaid by Suzanne Selfors
  • The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous by Suzanne Crowley
  • The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex.
The last two titles were particularly excellent. My own efforts to support teen literature tend to consist mainly of keeping my classroom stuffed with it and letting the kids know they can have the books if they will read them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Marigold's Marigold

Library Woes

After such a long, story time-less period, I now find out that our joyful resumption of story time will be short. Our branch library is going to be closed from May 12th through June 16th - if construction stays on schedule - ha! Guess we'll be starting the Summer Reading Club at the Central Library. Sniff.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bronze Bustle

The Lone Star Girl's Girl Scout troop has been working on earning their Bronze Award. Most of the badges they earned towards it were environmentally oriented, so they decided that their Bronze Award service project would be an environmental project, too. Their project was clearing a space and planting a garden at Camp Greenhill, the nearby Girl Scout Camp, and making and setting up bird feeders throughout the camp.

Usually, the girls meet on Friday nights, but there have been lots of extra meetings lately as they logged in their service hours and prepared. Lone Star Pa has helped ferry the Lone Star Girl around to most of it, while I have kept charge of our Lone Star Baby - we tend to require a divide and conquer strategy when there is work to be done. Some members of our family unit are not very civilized yet.

The girls collected used plastic bottles to make bird feeders out of, and were thrilled to get to use power tools in their construction. They visited our local Science and History Museum and learned about xeriscaping, since there won't be anyone around to water these plants most of the time. They visited two nurseries and chose hardy, water-wise, attractive plants, and bought bird seed and potting soil. Yesterday, they caravaned up to the camp and put in their hours actually making the garden and hanging the bird feeders. We are proud of them.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Lone Star Niecelet!

My baby niece is one year old today. Doesn't seem possible. I wish I got to see her more.

Friday, April 11, 2008

More On The Polygamist Compound

So the State of Texas has had to remove 416 children, which is all of them. 416. Our foster care system was already in crisis...this is not going to help. Had to be done, of course, but oh, my.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Esteban El Plano

I wonder if Jeff Brown ever imagined, when he wrote Flat Stanley, the adventures that his character's namesakes would have with children for decades to come. Flat Stanleys were colored and then sent home with the Lone Star Baby's class in March, with letters of introduction and instructions to send them off to recuperate, and to then bring them back and tell of their adventures.

Of course, at Marigold's school, they say Esteban El Plano, because they only speak Spanish there.

We sent Marigold's Esteban El Plano on vacation to Mexico over Spring Break with a family in our Quaker Meeting. He came back with shells, coral, two baby coconuts, photos of himself on exotic beaches and at ancient ruins and some sugared tamarind. Marigold took him back on Wednesday to share his adventures. She said the class got to see the photos and coconuts and each got a shell and some sugared tamarind, as we hoped. Thank heavens we have friends who go on interesting vacations! With their help, I feel we did our part.


I went to visit some family last night after work, and my late Granddad's sweet doggie was jumping all over me before I got clued in that he was sticky because he'd just had a flea treatment. I had a pleasant visit with my kinfolk and it wasn't until I was almost home that my lip and tongue started burning. At home, I shucked my clothes and took a shower, and no matter how much I washed, the prickly burning seemed to intensify, and my eyes started burning, as well. I took some generic benadryl-type drug and called my stepdad and my mom in Dallas. Their medical advice was to take some more before I went to bed and call 911 if my throat closed, as I figured. I have always been a major hayfever girl - one thing I like about living in Corpus is that the tree stuff that gets me hacking is not abundant here - but I had never, ever had this kind of reaction before. Closest to it is that my eyes have always gotten stingy if I play with cats and then touch them, but this was quite distinct from that experience. It was sort of scary. I'm still alive and am better now, though.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Polygamist sects in Texas?

Who knew?

I personally would be in favor of not interfering in whatever sorts of marital-type relationships that consenting adults choose to have...but when they start involving kids, they have to go down. Lone Star Ma cannot allow that sort of thing in her state. I hope they catch the guy.

Storytime Resumed

Our children's librarian is back and last night was the first PJ Story Time in two months. The Lone Star Baby and I were very glad for its return. She remembered the old songs and finger plays, enjoyed the stories and was thrilled with the kitty stamps she got on her hands. I was glad to have our special Monday night activity back.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Read My Articles!

Please. I know the website for We the People has been a bit wonky, and they still don't have all of the February and March articles up, but right now you can read my articles starting from the July 2007 issue when I started writing for them through the January issue, and you can read my new April article, Sex-Positive Parenting. I would absolutely, positively love to hear your comments on my articles. I am so enjoying the outlet of this column. Please be sure to read my November article, too - it's one of my favorites. Thanks!

What do you think?

Abandoned Blogs

No one has posted any comments on the last few posts from Daughter And A Movie and I have basically lost interest in it myself. I didn't even post reviews of The Spiderwick Chronicles and Horton Hears A Who on it when we went to see them. I am ditching it. Also, it's been a couple of years since the Lone Star Girl posted something on her long-abandoned Tales From Your Pre-Teen Writer, which she has considered ditched for a long time - she has a new blog now with a few friends who like to get totally silly with her online. I will be removing these two abandoned blogs from my blog roll soon.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I've Joined A Cult

No, not the cult of Demeter, although that was a good guess, cowgirls.

It's the Diablo Chocolate Cult.

My sister, who I thought was going to become a Christian missionary before this enlightening experience, seduced me into this apostasy.

You, see - there's this new coffee house in town and it has gelato. There hasn't been such a place in this city for years and the one (mmm) that used to be here was just delectable sorbettos, nothing as fancy as the crazy flavors this place has. Now...I like chocolate very much, but I wouldn't normally get chocolate at a place where there were fancy fruit gelati because a middle-ish class person like myself could have chocolate pretty much any old time and the fancy fruit flavors of gelati are such interesting treats...but...


The gelato lady pressed taste spoons of this Diablo Chocolate upon us...she told us to taste it...and wait for it...and....oh my merciful chocolate deity!

A few seconds after you taste the chocolate, there is an aftertaste...a sharp, hot pepper aftertaste. It is the most weird and amazing and what-did-I-ever-think-I-needed-a-man-for thing you have ever had in your mouth.


I had a cup of it and the raspberry together. I wanted to go out evangelizing with a spoon...here: taste this...

I must now go begin my ministry...