Friday, August 29, 2008

Way Too Busy

This was the first week of school for the Lone Star Girl and for my students and the students of Lone Star Pa. We have been busy.

The Lone Star Girl started seventh grade and I have been doing a lot of talking/e-mailing to the school nurse about where which emergency medications for her allergies should go and all that ... the nurse seems great, much smarter than I. We've also had transportation issues. Our district has made cuts to its school bus routes and we no longer have one. They expect me to let my daughter walk almost two miles to school with all her books across one of the city's busiest streets during rush hour with no crossing guard and through a bit of a dicey area on the other side ... no. I am therefore having to drop her off at school an hour and a half before it starts so that I can then drop the Lone Star Baby off at school, and get to work on time. Fortunately, the Lone Star Girl's wonderful school lets them in the cafeteria that early, so I don't have to worry too much. My sister is probably going to be picking her up from school most afternoons, but she had to leave town this week (right after moving into her new apartment) for a funeral, so I have been zipping out of work at the earliest time we are allowed to leave to get the Lone Star Girl, not something that I would be able to do all the time, and picking her up outside of her school about 45 minutes after she gets out. Whew!

The Lone Star Girl is mostly full of her usual jaded negativity about seventh grade, particularly since she doesn't have lunch with her group of friends, but her school has added a daily Spanish class which makes me happy and she already adores her "advanced" theater arts class. She is really very lucky. School has gone well for me this week, except that I have a nastier version of the Lone Star Baby's cold and am pretty miserable from it, and Lone Star Pa had a good week, too. The Lone Star Baby is jumping right into big girl work at her school - making words with the sandpaper letters and all - we are really proud of her. Her school had a potluck social last night and we enjoyed it before going home to watch Obama's speech.

I really want to go to bed now but I need to watch the news and see what's going on with this hurricane. My brother at Tulane has already been evacuated to Georgia but I have a brother in Houston as well as ourselves to worry about, as well as all those other people ...

I Heart Barack Obama

After that speech, I'm almost ready to marry him as much as vote for him, but I don't think he'd be into a group thing even if Lone Star Pa could be convinced. Even if he can't be my husband, though, Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States and our children, all of our children, will reap the benefits.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back to Bustling

Those golden summer days are definitely over. I was at work all this last week, and the Lone Star Baby officially started school Monday, after the two play days at school the week before. Also on Monday, Jazz and her dad came down to bring her back for college and move her into her new apartment (They now have privately owned college-kid apartments that will place you with folks like dorms do, except that you have your own room and bathroom - how fancy is that? She knows two of the three girls she got a quad with). The girls enjoyed having Grandpa stay with us for the week and are excited to have Auntie Jazz back. The Lone Star Baby has had a cough since Monday night and it sounds yucky, but her Grandpa wasn't concerned and he's a doctor. Being a bad mommy, I sent her to school anyway, which Grandpa said was fine, because she really didn't have a fever and doubtless caught the cold there anyway and I had to go to far we have fallen from those new mom ideals. Really, she is running around like normal all day, though, so it seems silly to keep her home and get in all kinds of trouble at work. The only sign that she is under the weather is that she is a bit fussier in the evenings and early mornings. I've been giving her guaifenesin to loosen up her mucous and boy does she love that - not. She has really enjoyed being back at school, but still talks about how she wishes we could stay home - me, too.

Meanwhile, Lone Star Pa and I have taken turns making the Lone Star Girl help us get our rooms set up and school starts Monday, for us and for the Lone Star Girl. Back to crazy days and crazy nights and paces no one should have to keep, people. Modern life...sigh.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

August YA Pick: Those Damned Vampire Books

It pains me to choose Stephanie Meyer's Twilight books for this month's pick, as there is so much that I dislike about them, but there is no doubt that they are written in a compelling and talented way and that they have become the Harry Potter of preteen/young teen girl reading in the sense of encouraging kids to read big ol' humongous books. These books are about an idiotic teen girl who falls in love with a vampire who doesn't suck human blood. She also has a bit of a werewolf boyfriend on the side for awhile, who seems like a much more pleasant person than her over-controlling, bloodsucking beau...sort of. The worst thing about them is what my daughter calls the Little Mermaid Effect - the way the dumb girl is willing to give up everything for a guy. It's very vomit-inducing. That said, I couldn't put them down and neither could the Lone Star Girl.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pumping Alum

We had some brown-outs in the neighborhood today. I think the last time we really had any significant ones was when the LSB was an infant and they filled me with a deep, deep panic. Today, though, there were absolutely no precious, all-important bags of frozen breastmilk to worry about.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summer's End/Doctor Summer

Well, in a couple of hours, summer will be over for me. I am going to take the Lone Star Baby to story time at 11, but then I have to go up to school to get my classroom in order - I've already spent some time there, of course. Lone Star Pa and I start back to work officially tomorrow, and our students return on the 25th, which is when the Lone Star Girl will start back to school. The Lone Star Baby will go to her school for "play days" tomorrow and Friday while we are at work and then her school starts for real on the 18th. The Lone Star Girl will get dragged along to lots of staff development and work days with her father and I so she can help us with our rooms and have less unsupervised time. She's not happy about that, but I do pay her.

The summer has been mainly lovely - these golden family months are like having a maternity leave every year and are such a blessing. We have been pretty busy. In the main, it has been a doctor summer. For two years now, I have been trying to get a grip on the Lone Star Girl's health, without much support from the doctors I have taken her to, who have pretty much blown me off and said she was fine, when she clearly - to me - was not fine. It seems to come down mainly to bad allergies, mild asthma and some reflux. We spent most of the summer in doctors' offices getting it all straightened out and now she is sleeping in a very dust-controlled environment, getting shots, measuring her peak flows and carrying an Epi-pen. There's still going to be some stuff to straighten out at school, but I feel greatly relieved to finally have a good doctor and some good answers and to be on the right road, even if it is probably going to take another year to see the kind of improvement that will really make her feel much better. She has not enjoyed all of the time at doctor offices and is so accustomed to feeling crappy by now that she doesn't really see the point of treatment, but I'm going to get this girl well, whether she likes it or not.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jesuits In Space

I recently read two really excellent science fiction books about Jesuits making first contact with an alien planet by Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow and its sequel, Children of God.

Friday, August 08, 2008

August Mamalit Pick: The Ten-Year Nap

The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer seems, at the beginning, to be mainly a novel about a woman who quit her job as an attorney to stay home with her baby son and who, ten years later, is struggling to figure out what her place is in life and where she wants her life to go. It turns out, however, that the book is more of what we would call an ensemble piece if it were a play, with a fairly in-depth exploration of the way work and family issues have impacted the lives of all of the women in the story, and even of their mothers and some tangentially related women. Each individual piece is very well written and substantive and I found myself really enjoying the novel, although I seldom do enjoy popular, mainstream, contemporary adult fiction, as I am often somewhat repulsed by the characters in bestsellers. Although I really enjoyed reading the novel and enjoyed each piece taken individually, I am not sure that I like the message I get when all the pieces of the ensemble are put together. Taken together, at-home motherhood seems to be portrayed as something rather childish and unsatisfying in the long run. The women who are content with it in the book are a bit weird. The mothers with whom one is led to identify find it troublesome. These viewpoints seem valid enough in each individual woman's story, but I do not like the message when they are all put together. It seems a bit disrespectful to me. The novel is still an excellent read, however, if one can try not to find a theme, but take the women's stories separately instead.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Please Read My August Column

Hey! I wasn't even going to link to my August We the People News column because I was sort of upset by the way it got edited, but they posted the whole article on the website, so please read it!

World Breastfeeding Week Wordle

Mother Support: Go For The Gold

Well, today is the last day of World Breastfeeding Week. All of August remains Breastfeeding Awareness Month, though, so please take some time out to think about how we can, as individuals and communities, make our society more breastfeeding-friendly, for the long haul. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More Creeping Independence

Today I took the Lone Star Girl and a friend of hers to a movie...but I dropped them off there. Then, I came back to pick them up when the movie was over. I know. I rock.


Did you ever use a galactogogue to increase your milk supply while nursing? As a working mama, I was always trying to up my supply during the first year, since pumping is so hard that you seem to need a stronger supply to do it than you need to just nurse well. My friends and I were fans of blessed thistle and fenugreek. I also know people who claimed that oatmeal and hops (beer!) were very helpful. I don't know if the galactogogues my friends and I used actually worked in some chemical way or if it was just psychological...but it really doesn't matter as long as it works, does it?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Breastfeeding Duration

Know what the normal biological continuum is for breastfeeding duration in humans? Two and a half to seven years. This means, on a curve, that a small percentage of developmentally typical children will be ready to wean at two and a half (not before) and a small percentage of developmentally typical children won't be ready to wean until seven (not after), but that pretty much all developmentally typical children are ready within that window and that most developmentally typical children will be ready to wean between four and five years. Know how long most American children nurse? Less than six months. Food for thought. Rather literally.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Many bottle-feeding mothers mention that they feel “pressured” and “made to feel guilty” about not breastfeeding. While it is clear from the statistics that a majority of mothers do seem to feel duty-bound to give breastfeeding a quick try, the pressure to stick with it must be pretty minor, considering how quickly most American mothers wean their babies from the breast, often before making it home from the hospital. It is fashionable to say that breastfeeding advocates guilt trip people about not nursing, and the feeding choices of all mothers do need to be respected, but the real harassment in our culture is aimed at mothers who do breastfeed, or at least at mothers who breastfeed outside of a burka. There have been far too many serious incidents in which mothers have been persecuted for nursing, incidents that make other mothers afraid of the isolation that breastfeeding for very long would mean in a hostile environment. This culture of harassment is a major public health issue that dramatically shortens breastfeeding duration in America and increases the strain on our already inadequate health care system.

In 2006, people wrote letters of protest and media outlets made a huge fuss when BabyTalk Magazine featured a close-up of a nursing baby on its cover…although it is a magazine about babies and features many feeding-related articles on a regular basis. People expressed their outrage that their adolescent sons might get hold of such smut. In the same year, Emily Gillette was kicked off of a Freedom Airlines flight for refusing to put a blanket over the head of her nursing child. In a Kentucky Applebee’s Restaurant in 2007, a mother was told that she had to cover her nursing child with a blanket when she was nursing in the restaurant. In that same year, a medical student was not allowed to take time out of her all-day board exam to pump her breasts – is there something wrong with this picture? 2007 was also the year when Bill Maher and Barbara Walters, among other celebrities, felt called to make nasty comments about breastfeeding in public. Most shocking of all, however, is the fact that in 2007, a Houston Ronald McDonald House told a mother that she could not breastfeed her son, who had brain cancer, in the common room of the House, as it might make other people ‘uncomfortable’.

Here in Corpus Christi, I personally know women who have been told that they cannot nurse at swimming pools, the elementary schools of their older children and the public library, even though Texas has a law that protects breastfeeding mothers and children from this sort of harassment. Since the law does not really contain a penalty for its violation, many Texas venues continue to break it with impunity. This sort of treatment tells mothers that they will be second-class citizens if they nurse their children. If they do not want to be vilified for doing what is in the best interests of their children and public heath, they must hide and isolate themselves and their families. This is ridiculous. It is criminal. It is a culture that hurts and even kills children, as four out of a thousand children in the U.S. die from not being breastfed each year, not even counting SIDS deaths, which rarely ever happen to breastfed babies.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Lone Star Ma’s List of Kids’ Books About Breastfeeding

Maggie’s Weaning by Mary Joan Deutschbein

Michele, The Nursing Toddler by Jane M. Pinczuk

We Like To Nurse by Chia Martin

Mama’s Milk by Michael Elsohn Ross

I’m Made of Mama’s Milk by Mary Olsen

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Lone Star Ma's Breastfeeding Reading List

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
by La Leche League International

Mothering Your Nursing Toddler
by Norma Jane Bumgarner

Nursing Mother, Working Mother
by Gale Pryor

Hirkani’s Daughters: Women Who Scale Modern Mountains to Combine Breastfeeding & Working
edited by Jennifer Hicks

Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives
by Katherine A. Dettwyler & Patricia Stuart-Macadam

Our Babies, Ourselves
by Meredith Small

Milk, Money, and Madness: The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding
by Naomi Baumslag

Mother’s Milk: Breastfeeding Controversies In American Culture
by Bernice L. Hausman

The Milk Memos
by Cate Colburn-Smith and Andrea Serrette

Yard Sale Saturday

I always thought I'd be someone who would enjoy having yard sales. I was wrong.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week

In addition to being the birthday of my oldest (younger) brother, today is the first day of the seven days that make up World Breastfeeding Week 2008. I will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week by posting about breastfeeding every day. The theme for World Breastfeeding Week this year is Mother Support: Going For The Gold. Certainly, mother support is crucial to successful breastfeeding. What are some ways that we can support the mothers of our society in their attempts to breastfeed?