Sunday, August 30, 2009

August Bonus Bonus Pre-school/Primary Pick: Sally Jean, The Bicycle Queen

Sally Jean, The Bicycle Queen by Carl Best is the wonderful story of Sally Jean and her bicycle Flash, and how the day came for Sally to ride a bicycle that only Sally could ride. Sally can change tires, adjust and repair and build bicycles and remember the dreams of little pedal pushers. A feel-good book.

Published Poetry!

My poem, Eclipse, has been published on Vox Poetica today! Please go read it here! Tomorrow it will move to their poemblog. Quite an uplift for my week!

Time Change on Mothers & Others Against Las Brisas Demonstrations

We're chasing the daylight up. They are now from 7pm until 8pm on Sundays on the public sidewalks along SPID between Everhart and Staples. Please join us! And please write to your City Council Member and tell them you do not want Las Brisas to be given water rights. Thanks!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Good-Bye, We The People News

I have a head full of column ideas, but they are going to have to stay in my head for the time being. The wonderful local alternative monthly in which I have been privileged to write my Lone Star Ma column for the past couple of years, has published its last edition. I am really going to miss it.

We the People News has been enormously more successful than my own Lone Star Ma Magazine ever, ever was, so I am extra sad that it couldn't make it in these hard economic times. It represented to me the possibility that the dream could work, but I guess it hardly ever does for long.

Many thanks to John Kelley for his hard work and tireless devotion to social justice here in the Coastal Bend. You made a difference. Thank you.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Taking A Deep Breath

As of yesterday, I think I have everything that I needed to get accomplished in terms of dealing with the Lone Star Girl's allergies and asthma at school accomplished. For now. I am pretty appalled that it took me until four days after school had already started. I just had no idea that so many complications would crop up, since we had managed this once already last year and it had not seemed as drawn out or complicated then.

First, there were the refills. We had the Lone Star Girl's annual appointment with the allergist in late July and I went to it blissfully unaware that the 'refills remaining' on her meds can't be filled if it has been over a year. The PA informed me of this so when we got home, I checked all of the meds and sure enough, the refills were out of date and the meds about to expire, except for the epi-pens which had one barely current refill left and which I then had refilled in the nick of time. Then the Lone Star Girl and Lone Star Pa promptly forgot and left the epi-pens in the hot car and ruined them. So I needed more.

I called the doctor's office for more refills on the Lone Star Girl's inhaler and epi-pen, but there were disagreements on what we needed. I asked for three of each - so she would have one set in the clinic at school, one set to carry on her in her backpack for when she's up there after school for rehearsals and the clinic is locked and when she's walking home from school, and one set for carrying in her purse outside of school. It took some time to make it clear why (where classes are located, the fact that she walks home, the nature of medical emergencies during which the nurse doesn't need to be rummaging around for a kid's backpack) there needed to be two sets for school and one for home - apparently doctors expect to only have two sets out at a time period and we just got lucky not be pressured about it last time. Finally, they got it, though.

Then, it was just a matter of actually getting the prescriptions physically filled. I started dropping by the pharmacy once or twice a week and over the course of several weeks, there was always only part or none of what we had ordered there when I went to get it. Communication between the doctor's office and the pharmacy was leaving something to be desired, on the pharmacy's end as far as I could tell. It took weeks to get all three inhalers and epi-pens (actually four epi-pens since they come in two-packs). Weeks.

Then there was the matter of getting the medicine and the benadryl (which I forgot the first time I went) to the school nurse, who works the same hours I do and went back to school at the same time I did making it hard to get to her, job-wise. I finally managed to get over there on a day she had stayed late and I had left promptly, but there was also the paper work that the school needs from the doctor about the Lone Star Girl's medications, including authorization for her to self-administer them. The doctor's office is open late on Wednesdays (we go there for the Lone Star Girl's ant bite injections every fourth Wednesday evening) so I took the paperwork there the next Wednesday after work (as I was already back at work) and dropped it off to be signed and faxed to the school.

Time passed. The nurse didn't get the papers. The allergist's office said they had faxed them. I went back this past Wednesday, picked up copies of the signed papers, and came home and made more copies just in case. Yesterday, the Lone Star Girl delivered them to the nurse at school.


I think I'm going to ask for copies of the papers for next school year at the end of this school year and start this whole process again in June.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lighting A Candle For Teddy Kennedy

"...the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die..."

-Edward Kennedy

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Day of Kindergarten

Today was the big day.

While I felt that bittersweet baby's-growing-up feeling enough to be tempted to spend weeks reading kindergarten stories at bedtime and buying unnecessary supplies, etc., this was not actually any kind of big transition for the Lone Star Baby (except in our minds) so I restrained myself as best as I could. She is in the same Montessori classroom with the same teacher and mostly the same kids, minus the ones who graduated after their kindergarten year last year. The only thing different about the kindergarten year at her school is that instead of taking a nap after lunch like they did in their younger years, the kindergarteners have a second work cycle while the younger kids nap and they will work on reading in English during some of this time, since all their other work is in Spanish and the phonics are a bit different. Next school year, when she moves on to a totally different school, will be the really big transition.

The Lone Star Baby had a good day at school and happily chattered about all the work she did after I picked her up. We took her out to dinner to the restaurant of her choice and by then all the excitement had gotten to her. She didn't want her food and got the sillies in that way that kids do when they could stand to go to sleep early but are way too wired to do so. She fell off her chair and onto her nose while leaning over trying to lick her father's arm as he snatched it away. The blood and screaming very much marred the evening. I took her outside (because of the screaming) and put ice on her nose and called the pediatrician on call. Her nose is a bit swollen but didn't bleed too much - I don't think it's broken. Doctor said to ice it as long as I could, so I iced it on the way home and through a couple of WordGirl episodes on the couch. Then she had a bath and we read a couple of stories and I scratched her back until she fell asleep.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bonus August Pre-School/Primary Picks: Art and Nature

We have some picture books from the library this week that are very beautifully and originally illustrated and all three of them are about creatures in nature.

Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone and illustrated by Clare Beaton is a simple story with verbiage designed to encourage the reader to find the hidden seahorse in each tableau. Even at five, the Lone Star Baby quite enjoyed finding the seahorse in her different hiding places. The illustrations make the book, though. They are pictures of colorful textile creations - felt and lace and fringe and buttons - all cut and arranged in seascapes. It is creative and adorable.

Over in The Ocean In A Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Jeanette Canyon and its companion book by the same author and illustrated by Jill Dubin, Over In The Arctic Where The Cold Winds Blow, are both variations on the song Over In The Meadow, but are about animals in the coral reef and the arctic respectively. The illustrations in Over In The Ocean are pictures of polymer clay seascapes and the illustrations in Over In The Arctic are pictures of cut paper arctic-scapes. They are exquisite.

The Lone Star Baby didn't immediately understand what I meant when I explained what the illustrations were - she kept trying to touch them and I had to explain that they were only pictures of the cloth and clay and paper. They certainly do evoke that tactile need. All three books also provide additional information about the creatures in the story. These are lovely books.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Rain Project: Rain!!!!

Last night a bit before midnight, it started pouring outside! I can't remember the last time it rained! It didn't last very long, but it was very exciting! Today there was a quarter of an inch in the rain gauge. The Lone Star Baby has pretty much lost interest in this project since it never rains, but hopefully this will rekindle it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Last Wisps of Summer

This morning we took the Lone Star Baby to the last storytime she'll likely get to go to for awhile. The children's librarian is out for awhile and there won't be any PJ storytimes until she gets back. This is the last week we could make daytime ones before school starts. We also took her to her last swim lesson of the summer, a make-up one from last week when rescheduling was needed due to a problem with the pump room at the pool. She had fun. She has made a lot of progress with her lessons.

This afternoon I headed back to school, with the Lone Star Girl in tow, and got some work done on my classroom. We'll be there all day tomorrow. Lone Star Pa may take the Lone Star Baby to one last summer program at the museum while we're gone.

Thursday, Lone Star Pa and I are both officially back at school and the Lone Star Baby starts school on Monday. Another summer flown by....

Saturday, August 08, 2009

August Pre-school/Primary Pick: Rare Treasures

Another of the Lone Star Baby's Three Favorite Books Is Rare Treasures: Mary Anning And Her Remarkable Discoveries by Don Brown. We revisited it at Cousin Camp after las primas enjoyed playing in the dinosaur wing of the Science & History Museum. Rare Treasures is a non-fiction picture book about Mary Anning, who lived from 1799 to 1847 and who, as a self-taught little girl of scarcely any means at all, made some of the greatest discoveries of dinosaur fossils ever and knew more about them than almost anyone of her time. She was brave, too. An excellent book for the brave and curious and smart little girls (and boys!) in your life, especially the ones who like dinosaurs!

A Children's Poem For Shark Week

Baby sharks come from shark egg cases
Full of little sharkie faces
That you can see
In a very bright light
But don't worry-
They're still too small to bite.

Friday, August 07, 2009

!@#$%^&*@!! La Migra

Please read the article No Way Out by Kevin Sieff from the Texas Observer (this week's was a very good issue - I highly recommend going ahead and reading the whole thing when you have time). Valley residents are apparently supposed to just die in the backed up traffic during hurricanes for the sake of some oh-so-important pot busts and the paranoid jingoistic fantasies of some crazy white men who do not understand what it means to be TEXANS, the people over whom six flags have freakin' flown!!!!!!!! ARGHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Environmental Influences & Creativity

Well, I didn't get any de-cluttering done this summer. After last summer's success setting up the girls' rooms, I had hoped to get just one more room in order this summer. I figured that if I could consistently do one room each year, I'd be done in no more than five years, even if we counted the bathroom (which we probably won't) - but this just wasn't our year.

Some combination of the past school year's accumulated stresses regarding the Lone Star Girl's health and the unreliable car odysseys and then the Lone Star Girl's surgery and, well...I seemed to have no creative energy at all or any get-up-and-go, either, this summer. I got practically no writing done, even though summer is the only time I really have time for much writing, and no real cleaning to speak of, either. It was about all I could do to keep up with my column and help edit the next Mamaphiles and ferry the kids to their activities and doctor appointments. And I'm tired, not rejuvenated like I should be at this time of year. I keep experiencing creeping feelings of having wasted this precious, precious summer due to the fact that I did not accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish. However - I know that's really some bad and inaccurate self talk there and I am trying to battle it. I did a lot with First Day School and am really excited with where that's going, though worried that the Meeting might be back to having just my own kids again soon as folks have been moving. AND I organized the ongoing Sunday night Mothers & Others Against Las Brisas
demonstrations and have been doing a good job at steadily working at raising awareness on this issue. I know that's important and I know it is plenty to have accomplished in one summer, given all that the family has been going through. Intellectually, I know that. It is hard to hold on to the feeling, though.

Back to the clutter. Our house is always such a cluttered mess. The Lone Star Baby goes to a Montessori and those Montessorians are pretty hard-core about the importance of an orderly environment for the development of concentration and focus. They have a point, too. It really is easier to order the mind and concentrate and Accomplish Things in an orderly, uncluttered environment - no doubt about it. And I know that we get a big fat red "F" in providing that kind of environment and its benefits for our children. Seriously. We do. And I do see the deleterious effects at times and worry about them (all while hoping that they are somewhat balanced out by that orderly school environment). Also, I am starting a Daisy Girl Scout troop this fall and am worried because one of the girls who will be in her kindergarten year with the Lone Star Baby is the daughter of one of the teachers. If she joins the troop and their family, all of whom I adore, sees my house - well, they are going to be very disappointed in me, I can tell you that. And they are going to feel sorry for my kids - and I hate that feeling.

That said, there is another side to things, however accidental. Our crazy cluttered house has an upside for its downside. This sort of environment seems to foster a certain ongoing, relaxed style of continuous artistic expression and creative thought in children. Yesterday, the Lone Star Baby dug into a pile of clutter and plucked out some paper towel roll tubes that I had left lying around for her to play with. She remembered that they had made snake bracelets out of the same implements at school once and she cut along the lines of the tubes so they could spiral around arms and painted them with her paints and glued on googly eyes and made tongues out of bits of red crepe paper (torn off of the birthday party streamers that are still hanging up from June in various states of disrepair) and glued them on. These sorts of spontaneous multi-media projects go on pretty much without surcease around here. The Lone Star Girl made a doll out of a plastic fork when she was little and proceeded, while watching Saturday morning cartoons, to make a house and furniture for it out of disgarded cardboard and other detritus and then made it an elaborate wardobe of ballet tutus using mainly paper muffin cup liners. Our walls and refrigerators and shelves are covered with their interesting creations. And the kids have the most interesting way of thinking about things - as anyone who knows them can attest. This is how they roll.

And it is not the sort of thing you much see in a more well-ordered and focused environment.

Kids are natural artists in almost any environment, I think, but the sort of laid back, inventive and continuous creativity that I am talking about - one that has no real connection to artistic talent or aspiration - usually arises from the piles and stacks of an environment littered with natural materials and a healthy dose of benign neglect. And this has value, too. And it is something that I love about our kids and would not want to give up.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

August YA/Upper El Picks: Girls In The Wild

Two YA picks for August, both also suitable for mature upper elementary readers (in my opinion, but do keep in mind that my girls and I talk about everything - some people may feel differently): The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy and Girlwood by Claire Dean.

The Wild Girls takes place in the seventies and definitely has that feel (of which I'm rather fond). When thirteen-year-old Joan moves to California with her family, she befriends the Queen of Foxes, or Sarah, another girl her age who lives nearby, and they spend their time exploring the woods near Sarah's house. Joan also begins an imaginative journey into the wilds of her mind through writing. This book could have been written by the girls I went to Duke TIP summer classes at SMU with, it often seemed to me, from the way writing was so transformative in the lives of these girls. Both girls face challenges with their parents and both have parents who are facing some challenges of their own. This is an excellent story about girls growing into their own strength, which treats with compassion the growth of the other characters as well.

Girlwood is the story of twelve-year-old Polly, whose parents have split and who is faced with the tragic disappearance of her self-destructive older sister, Bree. Only Polly and her mystical grandmother at first understand that Bree has gone to the woods to heal herself and Polly holds on to her hope while her family is falling apart in despair. Polly finds true friends in other girls who understand the magic of Girlwood and together they work to make sure that Bree will have everything she needs until she can come back to them. This is a truly magical and beautiful story. I think everyone with magical girls in their lives should read it.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

August is World Breastfeeding Month and the first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week! This 2009 theme for World Breastfeeding is Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response. Across the world, when disasters strike, breastfed babies weather emergency situations better than their formula-fed counterparts due to the ready availability of a safe and clean food supply. When formula and clean water are not available, formula-fed babies are at risk of suffering and death. Breastfeeding also protects from the diseases that can be spread during disasters when living areas are contaminated by waste. Breastfeeding is one important way of being prepared to care for your infant in an emergency!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Health Fair Against Las Brisas!

Today the Lone Star Family helped at a Clean Economy Coalition booth at the Nueces County Health Fair, handing out information and bumper stickers and t-shirts about the health dangers of Las Brisas. Since the city and county won't even let the doctors come and talk to them about the health problems that Las Brisas will cause in our community, we collected signatures on petitions asking the Corpus Christi City Council and the Nueces County Commissioners' Court to allow the Nueces County Medical Society to present to them on the health risks of allowing Las Brisas in our community without gasification. They have let Las Brisas present - they should hear the doctors as well. A doctor representing the Nueces County Medical Society and one representing the San Patricio County Medical Society (lots of the pollution will blow to San Pat) gave out information for hours at the booth - they rock!

People were extremely supportive. Literally hundreds of people - maybe more - came and signed the petitions AND got t-shirts and fliers and bumper stickers. Only three out of the hundreds of people we talked to were in favor of Las Brisas and one of those made it clear that he was aware of the genuine health problems but not concerned because they wouldn't be blowing in his direction (nice). Hundreds of people told us again and again that they were strongly against the plant and horrified that their representatives were selling out their children's health.

The Lone Star Girl worked really hard - she rocks.

Protest tomorrow night - same bat time time, same bat channel.