Thursday, July 31, 2008

Conejillos de Indias

Today, we bought two young guinea pigs for the Lone Star Baby. She has named them, in keeping with our pet-names-from-mythology tradition, Persephone and Pandora (I was scared they'd end up being Cinderella and Ariel, but we dodged that one). I have been doing rodent research for awhile in preparation of getting her two small pets, and it is clear to me from this research that the best choice would be rats. They are the smartest and the nicest and they love people the most when handled. Domesticated rats do not trouble me and I had fully planned to buy a pair; the Lone Star Baby has been talking about this upcoming event for months. Today, at the pet store, though...there were these baby guinea pigs. They were just so damned cute.

I went home and got the Lone Star Baby so she could come see them and she was on the fence a bit, not as easily swayed as I, but she decided that she, too, wanted the guinea pigs. I called a friend of mine who used to have a guinea pig while I was at the pet store to be sure I wasn't making a big mistake and she said they were nice pets and she would give us her cage! We went to visit and she gave us their cage and a bunch of bedding and a dish and a water bottle and chewing sticks and an outdoor pen and a book on guinea pig care...quite amazing. So we got some guinea pig food and hay and set everything up and then got Persephone and Pandora and brought them home. It was a big day for the little critters and they were pretty scared, but they are more brave than I thought they would be and are venturing all over the cage and playing and eating.

They are so cute.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


July Lone Star Ma Blog Wordle! Make your own! Cool site!

The Great Room Maneuver: Part Three

After setting up her own new room, the Lone Star Girl was tasked with cleaning up her old room so we could set it up for her sister. This was rough. She had destroyed many parts of the paint job - there was sharpie and such on parts of the walls as well as on some of the furniture we were leaving in the room for the Lone Star Baby. She scrubbed away with the magic eraser on Saturday, but it wasn't easy. I ended up taking over on Sunday and, after scrubbing what could be scrubbed, decided to do a little touch-up painting. I took three shelving units outside and painted them pink, and touched up the pink paint where it was needed in the bedroom. That worked fine. Then came the yellow. I touched up certain places on the walls, door and dresser drawers with the exact same yellow paint (from the same can) that had done the original job. It looked...different. A little more orange than the old yellow. We thought at first that it might look the same when it dried, but it didn't. I think some rust changed the paint color. I suppose most people would have re-painted the whole room, but we are leaving it splotched for now - this job was big enough.

We got the most of the Lone Star Baby's things moved into the room on Sunday (and finished up the books on Monday). the Lone Star Baby helped Lone Star Pa put together a shelving unit of bins that we had gotten and she was very proud of her artistry. She was wildly excited as we organized the room, a bin or shelf space for every thing - all organized with places for everything to go. We also set up a little blanket-and-cushion reading nook next to her bookcase, which she loves, and moved the coloring house in there. She is thrilled with her room and is playing with her toys more than ever, now that she can easily find them and put them away.

Monday night and last night, she slept in her own bed. It took some time to get her to sleep, but then she stayed there the whole night. Wowza. I declare the Great Room Maneuver a rousing success! I am so glad that they finally have nice spaces.


I got my annual haircut today. Since I really do basically get annual haircuts, I always try to get it a bit shorter than I really want it. I went all out this year - it's really short - more a seventies-style Afro than Shirley Temple, but somewhere between the two.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BackTo School Prep

School supplies: Check.
School shoes: Check, check.
School clothes: Check.

The Great Room Maneuver: Part Two

The plan to move the Lone Star Girl into the green room with her precious comic book boxes had actually been at least a year in the making. When, however, we actually settled down to doing it this summer, the Lone Star Girl got cold feet about leaving her childhood room. While I felt sympathy for her attachment to the room, outwardly I brooked no resistance. The facts were that the green room was a good bit larger than her pink and yellow room and that, even in the green room, the comic book boxes would make it hard to fit all of her things. There was no way that they would fit in the smaller room and leave space for the room to ever be clean, and the Lone Star Girl's allergies require that we start insisting on a clean room for her (more on that later). Also, the Lone Star Baby is deep into her pink and fluffy little princess four-year-old girl phase and, while we all hope that the phase doesn't last long, she really deserves her turn with the pretty pink and yellow room, which she wanted badly.

So. We cleared everything out of the green room except for the comic book boxes and moved the Lone Star Girl in this past week, before and after the hurricane. Now it is no longer the green room; it is her room. Although the room is and always will still be crowded with those boxes, it is actually a pretty groovy room for an adolescent girl and definitely looks more her than her old room did.

Of course, the rest of the stuff that used to clutter up the green room is now piled all over the house in a major way, increasing the generally insane look of the rest of our surroundings, but the Lone Star Girl's room is very cool.

To Be Continued...

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Great Room Maneuver: Part One

This may be the summer's biggest accomplishment.

When we moved into the house a couple of months shy of the Lone Star Girl's fourth birthday, we had her room - her very first room - painted yellow with pale pink trim, her favorite sweet little girl colors. We painted the kitchen yellow, as well. We had our bedroom painted my favorite sea foam green, just like the living room, and painted the third bedroom the same kelly green as "the study" (our other living area that is supposed to be a dining room). This third bedroom, called "the green room" got a bed for guests (and sex, as there always seems to be children in our bed), but also got all the boxes and piles of stuff that we never had really unpacked and that got added to at various times, including several thousand comic books. It was a stuffed and piled up mess.

Fast forward nine years.

The Lone Star Baby is four years old, with no room or bed of her own, and the Lone Star Girl is no longer really the yellow-and-pink type, as evidenced by all the black sharpie on the walls and furniture. The Lone Star Baby needs a room. Her stuff is all over the living room and so squeezed and piled and cluttered up, that she cannot develop an orderly mind or find what she wants to play with - it is like a pit of despair. And I am big and fat and tired of sharing our merely full-sized bed with two people.

The green room is still a mess and I have never pushed very hard to clean it out because even if we got the rest of the junk cleared out, the comic book boxes, which Lone Star Pa loves more than he loves me, would still be there - so what's the point? Except that one crucial thing has changed...the Lone Star Girl has become even more of a Marvel Comics fanatic than her father and wants the comic book boxes in her room. A plan forms.

To be Continued...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Weathering Dolly

We're all fine here. The storm went in near Brownsville so we missed the worst of the winds and flooding. We are on the rain and possible tornado side of things and we got a lot of rain, but only a reasonable amount of wind, given how windy it always is here. There are still various flash flood warnings and tornado watches, but things seem to have calmed right down. Here is the Lone Star Baby holding my K-Nex version of the hurricane:

Here is our soggy backyard:

At one point yesterday morning, the news dudes said that a tornado had been picked up on radar heading...roughly towards our house, it sounded like. I woke up Lone Star Pa and the Lone Star Girl and herded them and the Lone Star Baby into our tiny hallway. We closed all the doors that open to it and tented a mattress over us just in case - but then the weather dudes said it was one of those Doppler tornadoes that aren't really anywhere close to the ground and that all was well, so we came out. Probably only we even took precautions - we're pretty serious about weather. Our tornado shelter:

Once again, we are very, incredibly fortunate.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July YA Pick: The Alice Books

This summer brought us Almost Alice, the latest installment in th Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I really love this series. Jazz and the Lone Star Girl do, too. I started buying these books for Jazz when she was eleven or twelve and have continued to get them for her as they have come out. The Lone Star Girl discovered them at around ten and quickly read all the ones that were out at that time in a matter of weeks. Now, when one comes out, I buy it, the Lone Star Girl and I read it, and I pass it on to Jazz. Alice is a growing girl in this series who lost her mother at 5 and lives with her dad and her older brother, and eventually with her dad and a stepmother, after her brother grows up. The books have so far followed her from 6th grade through 11th grade, with three prequels that cover 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. Alice isn't a very academic girl, but she's responsible about school. She's not driven, but she sets goals for herself. She's a loyal friend, but she understands the importance of being herself. She loves her family. She isn't a prude and she enjoys the her gradual sexual awakening as a teen , but she has morals and standards. The books take on serious and often controversial issues in the lives of teens, but Naylor writes without the creepy voyeurism with which a lot of teen books treat such topics. It's a great series and I like for my daughter read it. I'd be pleased with a daughter like Alice.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Yet Another Library Post

Yes, I do know that I am fairly obsessed with this institution. No, I do not fully understand why I did not obtain a degree in Library Science while I was collecting such things.

Our branch library re-opened the second week of July with a new name - it is now Neyland where before it was Parkdale. It is lovely, all painted and newly carpeted. They are still working on the large children's addition and will probably have to close again in August for a bit to finish it, but story times at the library resumed for a short while in front of the temporary children's stacks. The Lone Star Baby is enamored of the pattern of scattered circles and ovals in the new blue carpet. She insists on jumping from one circle to the next, careful not to get outside of the circles on the carpet, as she says that the non-circle part is "mud". I am generally patient with such games but she is so consistent with it that I hope the carpet has not given her a disorder. If it has, we shall both have library obsessions.

Today was the Summer Reading Club Finale and we all traipsed to the library for songs and stories and - yay!- The Library Game. The excellent Ms. Linda had once again set up a scavenger hunt of stickers to be found at various locations throughout the library. It is a great game. Then there were cookies - to take home, though - no cookies on the new carpet! It was great fun.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Missed My Blogiversary!

It was July 8th. Three years. Three very strange years of general upheaval.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stranded For A Night

We drove up to North Texas on Thursday and spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday visiting with family in Dallas and Denton and collecting the Lone Star Girl from her visit with her Denton grandmother. The plan was to drive back on Monday, so that the girls would be home for their busy schedule on Tuesday (swimming lesson and ballet for the Lone Star Baby and orthodontist appointment and swim practice for the Lone Star Girl).

Unfortunately, we got a late start and, after stopping for dinner in Austin and hitting the road again, the car started smoking. The radiator was busted and it was after 5pm. We had to find a motel and spend the night and find a mechanic who could fix it in the morning and we ended up leaving Austin at around noon today when all was said and done. We missed the swim lesson and re-scheduled the orthodontist appointment but did manage to get the Lone Star Baby to ballet under 15 minutes late (after swinging by the house to grab ballet clothes and then heading straight to the ballet school immediately upon reaching town) and the Lone Star Girl to swim practice at night. Whew!

The repair (plus motel plus food) will really set us back and I don't know that we'll be able to fix the bathroom crisis that we had been hoping our tax incentive check might possibly cover this summer - it's quite a detour the last couple of days have been. Still, I can't help thinking how we were able pay for cheap shelter and the repair and to get home safely, even though it's really going to hurt financially. That's a whole lot more than an awfully lot of people in our country would have the means to do and, even though I'm a little stressed, I feel deeply grateful and blessed that we have the resources that we do have. I don't kid myself that it's because of any particular virtue - I know that the chaos can come, no matter what you try to do. We are just incredibly fortunate.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Breathing Her In...

Since the Lone Star Girl has been at her grandmother's, I find myself sneaking into her room every few hours and walking around or sitting on her bed. I am not snooping. I am just...experiencing her place. When the Lone Star Girl is home, her room is sort of her den these days and she does not like me to linger there. It is where she hides forbidden sugary drinks and puts laundry away badly and reads comic books when she's supposed to be's her space, and she needs it. I get that, but I also miss my little girl and am always in awe of my growing girl as she transforms more and more into a young woman every day, so I like to be in her room.

I like to see how she decorates and see what she has written and drawn in black sharpie on the walls we had painted yellow with pink trim when we moved into the house a couple of months before her fourth birthday. She would roll her eyes at me if she was here, so...sometimes...ironically...I have to take a few quiet moments when she is away to sit still and really breathe in the essence of her that lingers in her room. Such a silly, sentimental mama I am...

July Mamalit Pick: The Maternal is Political

I am instituting a new feature on this blog to go with my YA picks: Mamalit picks. Motherhood, as Brain,Child Magazine says, is worthy of literature. I believe this passionately. I am always on the lookout for good mama books - not parenting books, which I only rarely enjoy, being not such a fan of advice, but books, fiction or non, about the parenting life. Quality books. There are too few when compared to the advice spewing tomes, in my opinion.

This month's pick is The Maternal Is Political: Women Writers at the Intersection of Motherhood & Social Change, edited by Shari MacDonald Strong of Literary Mama. The title alone sort of capsulizes the main theme of my life and the book is just as amazing as I could have hoped. It includes essays by motherhood movement leaders from Moms Acting Up and The Mothers Movement Online, Texas writers like Marrit Ingman, national bestselling authors like Barbara Kingsolver and Anna Quindlen and extremely politically active mothers like Nancy Pelosi, Cindy Sheehan and the late Benazir Bhutto, among many others. The essays address our responsibility and calling as mothers to believe, teach and act. This wonderful book reminds us that we can make this world a better place for our children and all children if we work together and work hard. Read it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

San Antonio Adventure

We met up in San Antonio on Monday and delivered the Lone Star Niece to her daddy and sent the Lone Star Girl on with him to be taken to Lone Star Pa's mom in Denton for a few days. The Lone Star Baby was desolate. It was hard to tell whether she was more upset about being parted from her cousin or from her sister. She didn't even cry or fuss, just sort of shrunk and became amazingly tragic looking, clinging and quiet and sad. I got into the backseat to sit next to her and pat her while we drove. We decided to try to find the Riverwalk and see if an adventure would cheer her up - and it definitely worked!

We went to the mall that opens onto the Riverwalk and then went walking around the river. The Lone Star Baby really liked it and wanted to walk the whole hike herself and not be carried at all. We had lunch at a restaurant right on the river and sat right by the water, breaking tortilla chips into bits to feed to the bold ducks that swam right up for them.

The Lone Star Baby loved it.

I thought she would enjoy feeding the ducks for awhile, but she probably stuck with it for a good two hours, squealing with delight the whole time. There was even a flock of ducklings that came to eat with their mother for a long time and also a duck with a damaged bill to which she payed special attention.

I am used to the feeling when out with a small child that one must hurry things up a bit after awhile and get out of there before the inevitable meltdown happens...this adventure was in another world from that feeling. The Lone Star Baby could have stayed there forever. After awhile, though, there was a rigorous and sustained cloudburst and we had to make our way quite a ways in the rain back to the mall and our car. She totally enjoyed the rain walk, too. She was an angel the whole time. It was lovely.

Monday, July 07, 2008


I went out to pick up tacos for breakfast today and when I got back, the Lone Star Girl was holding a dangling earring of mine made out of a Blackheart guitar pick and begging me to borrow it. I said yes, of course, and she put it in one ear and a little skull and crossbones earring in the other ear. Oh, the memories...

Cousin Camp, Days 9 and 10

On Saturday, the little primas and I had a great time while the Lone Star Girl was at a swim meet with Lone Star Pa (it was pretty far away and we decided everyone would be happier if we didn't try to get the little ones to sit through it). We had a picnic breakfast and then went to Lakeview Park, which has a pond/lake and ducks. We tried to feed the ducks, but the seagulls got most of the bread and tortillas that we brought. There were also lots of cute turtles in the water. The girls played on a playground at the park and walked the trail around the water with me. We then took a picnic to the Botanical Gardens and ate there, then looked around at all the flowers and butterflies again. We got ice cream on the way home. It was great. However, the girls then got too close and too wild, playing on the couch, and the Lone Star Baby accidentally kicked the Lone Star Niece in the face. It scared me a bit because it was right next to the eye and there was a tiny spot of cut, but the Lone Star Niece was thankfully fine. I got so mad at the Lone Star Baby for not being more careful that I sent her to bed for the afternoon, though, and then the Lone Star Niece was pretty bored.

On Sunday, we went out for breakfast, played around the house, went to the library, watched a little Magic School Bus, baked cookies and decorated activity bags for the car.

Today, we are heading out for San Antonio to meet the Lone Star Niece's daddy there so he can take her home to Dallas. We are also sending the Lone Star Girl on with him as he has agreed to deliver her to her paternal grandmother in Denton, near Dallas, where she will be visiting a few days before the rest of us drive up to visit and get her. All in all, I'd say that Cousin Camp 2008 has been a success!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Cousin Camp, The Independence Day Edition

Super Why, brunch, playing lots of school, 4th of July crafts, play dough time, two-girl 4th of July parade up and down the street with home-made streamer batons (paper towel tubes and crepe paper) and maracas, backyard play, faux pigs in a blanket and watermelon, bedtime stories.

Good God

NBC has a new show called The Baby Borrowers where parents actually lend their babies and toddlers to the show so that teens can care for them for three days to learn how hard being a parent really is. Please write to the Viewer Relations Department at NBC at the address below to let them know that they have crossed a line. Um...Child Protective Services? Could we have a hand here?

NBC Viewer Relations
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

Read My July Column, Por Favor

My July column is up at We the People News. They did some funky things with subtitles that did not end up working, so please just ignore those. The column is an offshoot of my recent blog posts on religion and child abuse and may generate some hate mail so I could use some supportive comments on the paper's website if you feel so inclined. At any rate, please let me know what you think. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Cousin Camp, Day 6

Angelina Ballerina Party(!) at the Harbor Playhouse, courtesy of KEDT, the local public television station. Play dough, ice cream run, outside play, Muzzy, bedtime stories and our first real bout of nighttime homesickness.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Cousin Camp, Day 5

Visit to the Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens to see decorated yard flamingo exhibit, complete with picnic lunch in the Rose Bush Garden Gazebo after seeing the Hummingbird Garden, the Orchid House and the Bird and Butterfly Trail. A little Magic School Bus. A ballet lesson. Backyard play and indoor play and an early bedtime for tired campers.