Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

We decorated on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Our tree is up and decorated with all the girls' dear creations and our little Nativity sets are up.  Our winter books are out.  Advent starts tomorrow and our Advent calendars and wreath are ready.  The little plastic Magi are in the hall, ready to begin their journey to Bethlehem.


Thanksgiving Tradition: Our Animal Friends In Winter

I sort of treat Thanksgiving as the beginning of winter.  We don't have the sort of winters that many folks have.  It rarely freezes and we are bitterly cold when it's in the fifties.  Our only real Thanksgiving tradition that we came up with ourselves is to start trying to take care of the animals that live outside as it gets cold.  This year we made popcorn and cranberry chains that we hung on a tree for the birds and scattered lots of old bread in the yard.  It was fun watching the birds come to eat.  We've got some birdseed and pine cones and are planning to make pine cone bird feeders soon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Cards

I'm so proud of myself.  I actually got a batch of Christmas cards in the mail today.  I haven't been very good at cards in recent years.  I got some out last year, but not many, and didn't even try for a few years before that.  We like exchanging cards very much but I often get overwhelmed with all that I have to do, so I am happy that I pulled it off this year.  It wasn't a big batch as I have lost lots of addresses in the intervening years and people have moved, but it was a start!  I'll send more as I get more addresses. 

We have a card wreath that we put on our wall to display Christmas cards as we get them.  The girls also use old Christmas cards from previous years in crafts, and I love hearing from people from all the different seasons of our lives, so I think Christmas cards are a nice tradition, when I can manage it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TCEQ Shore Loves That Voluntary Compliance

Forrest Wilder's latest blog post at the Texas Observer informs us that the TCEQ is actually showing some - gasp!- concern over pollution. Sadly, they don't plan to do anything about it.  Still, I wish we had a mayor who cared about the health of the citizens in his town more than he cared about the ka-ching of polluters' dollars the way the mayor in that town does.  Pity we don't.

November YA Pick

November's Ya/Upper El Pick is, of course, Confetti Girl, by Diana Lopez.  The "of course" is because it takes place in Lone Star Ma's home town of Corpus Christi, Texas, with many delightful references to local schools and landmarks, and because the main character, Apolonia "Lina" Flores, attends Baker Middle School, where the Lone Star Girl goes to school.  Kind of exciting.

This is the sweet story of a middle schooler who loves socks, volleyball and science and who struggles with the loss of her mother and the way that grief has stolen her weird English teacher father, and with the typical challenges of friendships when boys start to be relevant.  It's got cascarones in it ... need I say more? 

The Lone Star Girl's Baker friends say that this story is not an accurate portrayal of life at Baker Middle School.  They mean that it is too sweet and innocent and does not involve enough (or any) profanity.  That's what endears it to adults, I expect, and what makes it an appropriate read for the upper elementary set as well as teens, but I know what they mean.  It's still a very nice book, though.  The sweetness of it reminds me a little bit of The Tequila Worm by  Viola Canales, but it is younger and less serious.  I highly recommend this book, not just if you live in Corpus Christi, but especially if you do.

Yet More Flu Dodgng

There was an H1N1 vaccination clinic at Sunrise Mall yesterday.  I got the girls up early and we got there before it opened but the line was already very long.  Fortunately, it moved quickly.  They confirmed for me that kids over ten years of age do not need a second dose, so the Lone Star Girl didn't need one.  The Lone Star Baby got her second dose (sigh of relief) and much to my surprise and contrary to what they said on the health department's website, they were basically giving them to anyone, not just priority groups, so I went ahead and got mine as well.   I then made a lot of phone calls to family and friends so they would know that they could get theirs, too.  Lone Star Pa's district did not get out until today, so he was at work.  We left messages on his cell and e-mail to go straight after work before they closed at 5, but he didn't.  So...three down, one to go.  I'm so happy that the girls are vaccinated.  It's no guarantee, of course, but I feel that I have done everything I reasonably can and that is a great relief to my over-weaning sense of maternal responsibility.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cellaress At Thanksgiving

I have a new poem up in the Today's Words section at Vox Poetica.  Tomorrow it will be on the poemblog there.  Please read it!

Monday, November 23, 2009

November Preschool/Primary Pick: Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that is fraught with mixed feelings.  I winced at storytime recently when our dear librarian read a whitewashed story about the nice pilgrims and their friend Squanto and the other dear "indians".  We struggle not to reinforce stereotypes while also not giving little kids more horrors to think about than they should have to handle.  And I do think a day of gratitude is a very good idea indeed, so we try to make our own traditions - caring for animals and enjoying fellowship and gratitude (without the connection to the murderous white settlers who colonized this land and left us with no very good way to atone for the sins they left simmering in our DNA).

My preschool/primary pick for November fits well into our family's Thanksgiving tradition of trying to care for animals as winter comes - Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey.  This funny little picture book tells the story of a class of schoolchildren who visit a turkey farm, make friends with the turkeys and then discover the turkey farmer's terrible secret.  They manage to sneak the turkeys away for safe Thanksgivings in their homes where they can be dinner guests and not dinner  served.  It is funny and sweet and pefect for vegetarian children.  I highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Service, Soccer Parties and Storms

On Friday evening, I got home and canceled the Daisy meeting because our yard and the sides of the street were all flooded from the rather impressive amount of rain we are suddenly getting (I think the drought's over).  There was a message on the answering machine from the league lady that Saturday's soccer game was canceled because the field was all flooded.  Saturday's game was to be the last of the season and we were going to have a soccer party a bit after it at noon at the playground located in the now-flooded fields.  Lone Star Pa started making calls to let the team know the game was canceled and to try to re-schedule the party but one parent said we should just have the party at the same time at her house so we planned on that.  

Early Saturday morning, we met the Daisy Girl Scouts at the local Food Bank to unload the canned goods their school had collected (one can for each lap they completed in their trike-a-thon - they collected over 400 pounds of food!) and learn a little bit about the Food Bank.   I just love seeing these tiny kids get so involved in community service.  

After the Food Bank, we ate breakfast and hurried home to do a few things and headed out again to the soccer party.  The parents who volunteered their house live really close to us, in our same neighborhood, but remarkably were not flooded - I think ours is the second lowest street in the neighborhood and floods more than the others but one. The party was very nice.  The kids got trophies and metals and played and ate.  One of the moms made a very impressive cookie cake decorated with a soccer ball and flames for the team's name - the volcanoes.  It was fun.

We ran some errands in the afternoon - to the pet store to get guinea pig bedding, to Rainbow Books, and to the library so the Lone Star Girl could strategically check on the silent auction items she had bid on at the library's book sale and silent auction minutes before it ended.  At the pet store, the girls fell in love with a kitten and I had to be a very hard-hearted mommy and refuse them, even when they came up with the cutest little debate points and clung to the bars of the cage (okay - these things were mainly only cute when the LSB did them).   We drove around a demolition site next to the library and looked at everything.  I wanted to get the grocery shopping out of the way but the sky started to look scary again so we went home and made chalupas instead.   A good day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Anarchist Author Girl

Reading a story that the LSG wrote for English class today, I noticed a misspelling and asked her (with all the cheesiness that I guess means I deserve her snark) if she knew how to remember how to spell "principal" as in the principal in a school like in her story.  

She lucidly replied "Oh, yes, that's right - it's with an "a" because he's an antagonist".

My Prayer To the EPA: Save Us

The contested case hearing over the Las Brisas permit concluded last week and now everyone has to wait and see what the judges recommend and what the TCEQ does.  There is a good article by Forrest Wilder in the recent issue of the Texas Observer about the coal issue in Texas called The Coal Star State - I highly recommend reading it.  His blog is good, too. Note what he says about the water.

The EPA is taking measures to rein in the TCEQ's egregious permitting of polluters and to improve its own standards -  I pray these measures come in time for us.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Princess Bun Girls

Or horny-do girls, as I prefer to say, except that it makes them mad...


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Middle School Speech Tournament

Yesterday was our school district's  Middle School Speech Tournament.  The Lone Star Girl entered in group improvisation, duet acting and impromptu speaking.  She was heartbroken not to advance to semi-finals in group improv., as she considers that very much her thing, but the judge's written critique was complimentary - it was just a very competitive round.  She got to semi-finals with her partner in duet acting with a scene from Antigone.  They hadn't had much time to practice and I was kind of surprised they made it that far.  But impromptu speaking!  Wow! She was amazing!  She really rocked the impromptu speaking category, which is really a hard category.  You draw three topics, then have to choose one.  You then get three minutes to prepare a speech on the topic and then deliver it.   She was very obviously the best in the finals, although a few of the kids were quite good.  She won first place!  I'm proud of my drama girl!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Party's Winding Down

The Lone Star Girl's birthday party started at 2pm today but it isn't quite over yet, although the ewoks are singing so an end is near.  They have been watching the three original Star Wars movies while snacking on cupcakes, popcorn and carmel apples.  The highlight of the party was definitely when the wonderful, wonderful Irene of YinYang Fandango catered a truly amazing number of crepes from our kitchen table for over an hour - delicious and fascinating! The kids loved it and so did I - I ate way too many. 

The kids are great and I think they had fun.  Yay!

Planting The Seeds of Community Service

Our Daisy Girl Scout troop's participation in this year's Project Undercover was so wonderful.  Project Undercover is a community service project that our Girl Scout Council sponsors every year in October to collect diapers, underwear, socks, etc. for children in the care of Child Protective Services.  This sort of thing is what I like best about Girl Scouting.  Please read my article in We the People News about planting the seeds of community service. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

More Flu-Dodging

After days (nay -weeks) of fruitless phone calls, I finally scored an H1N1 vaccination for the allergy-ridden and asthmatic Lone Star Girl this evening (they have them at the clinic by Hooters, people).  Injectible even.  I do rock.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

V is For Voting (And Aliens)

I voted today between leaving school and getting to soccer practice which now is thirty minutes earlier (and which is shorter) because of the time change and the early dark.  Usually, I don't wait until election day, but vote early to avoid this sort of risky time crunch.  These constitutional amendments sort of sneaked up on me, though.  But I got it done.

Then, tonight, the Lone Star Girl and I had a V watching party!  On a school night!  And we had junk food!  And Jazz watched it with us.  (And I went to high school with that actress!) It was great.  I remember watching the original V miniseries as a middle-schooler, and then the other one, and then the TV show, and I read some V books while riding in a car that my dad was driving to Refugio for some sort of oil thing...I was really into it.  

Love My Kid

The Lone Star Girl trick-or-treated for UNICEF again this year.  She rocks  a lot.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Contested Hearings

Today the contested permit hearings on the TCEQ's permitting of Las Brisas began.  Many folks in our community are spending the next couple of weeks fighting for our lives in those hearings.  I have to go to work, but I am with them in spirit.  Pray that the TCEQ comes to their senses and does not allow our children to be sickened by this horrible coal-burning pet-coke plant.


The Lone Star Baby this morning as she dances around, shaking her "booty-butt" at us and acting like a wild animal:

"I had four pieces of candy yesterday;  that chocolate, and another of those chocolates and a different chocolate and another chocolate and I had cake."