Monday, January 31, 2011

Gorgeous Day

I'm in a really good mood today.  I know that part of it is that I took a half-day off in the afternoon so I could get to an IB Parent Meeting at the Lone Star Girl's school on time (I needn't have worried - it took a bit getting started) and also scheduled a conference at the Lone Star Baby's school so I could get all my finding-out-about-school responsibilities attended to in one afternoon.  I always wish I could spend tons more time at their schools so it is a major treat for me any time that I get to be there.

That wasn't all, though.  I'm just up.  A gift from the brain chemistry fairy today.  I'd worry that it is Mood Swings A' La  Menopause but I'm too cheerful to worry (anyone who knows me is running to hide now, as Armageddon is surely here - but it will be fun.)


I had a lovely conference at the Lone Star Baby's school today.  Her teacher is happy with her progress on all fronts.  Reading, math, behaving - check.  Those Montessori report cards of theirs are quite mysterious but she let me know that she calls if she ever has the slightest concern so no calls = all is well.  Yay.


Then it was on to the IB Parent meeting.  The Lone Star Girl's fledgling IB Program is doing well.  I feel great about the lady in charge and how things are unfolding.  The Lone Star Girl met me at the meeting  (in the library at her school) and after it we met Lone Star Pa and the Lone Star Baby at the public library and traded children.  I stayed at the library and helped the Lone Star Baby finish her homework while they went home, then bribed her with ice cream to let me get the grocery shopping done without resistance.  


When we got home, the Lone Star Girl was on the phone with the Lt. Governor waiting her turn to speak in his telephone town hall meeting.


I love my life.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Girl Scout Night/Girl Scout Day

Last night the Cadette/Senior Troop (or, as I call it - the Big Girl Troop) met at our house and we had a speaker!  City Councilwoman Nelda Martinez came and spoke to the girls about being a woman in politics (the last requirement of their Women Through Time IPP).  It was so nice of her to come and she was lovely.  Then, we talked cookies, Silver and Gold Awards, Girltopia journeys, etc.  The girls made some thank you cards and planned for World Thinking Day - a very nice meeting!

Today, the Daisy Girl Scout Troop (the Little Girl Troop) went on a field trip to the CC Museum of Science & History.  We did a rock and mineral hunt as part of our Between Earth and Sky Journey and then did the museum's Saturday treasure hunt, and then played at the museum (it's like that) and had a picnic in the grassy area in the middle of the water gardens.  It was great fun.

Girl Mornings

Usually our school morning routine this school year, much changed from our old one, is a two-parent gig:

Lone Star Pa takes the Lone Star Girl to  meet the swim bus at her school which leaves for the Natatorium at 6am and takes her back to school after practice, and then he heads on to Portland.

I get the Lone Star Baby ready and take her to school, going over spelling words and eating Bagelfuls in the car,  and then head over to my school.

From a timing, if not a sleep, perspective, this works very well. On the rare mornings there is no swim practice, though, the Lone Star Girl comes along with us while I take the Lone Star Baby to school and then I drop her off at her school on my way to work.  This takes longer and gets me to work later, especially since we tend to feel duty-bound to return to our old habits of getting tacos to eat on the way, but it works out, too.  I like the time I have to get settled before school starts in the morning with our usual routine, but I also miss that morning time with the Lone Star Girl this year - I've just become awfully aware of the fleetness of time with her.

This week, the Girl did not have swim practice, a week off after District (actually, it was optional, but she needed the rest), so she was with us every morning.  It was rushed, but it was really nice.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Time To Call THE EPA Again!

Yes, really.  Today the TCEQ approved the Las Brisas air permit, proving that they have zero interest in public health or environmental quality.   

The EPA needs to be the cavalry here.  Please call the EPA today and tell them that Corpus Christi needs their protection from Las Brisas since the TCEQ has failed us.

Call Director Lisa Jackson at (202)564-4700.

Call Deputy Director Gina McCarthy at (202) 564-7404.  (E-mail her at mccarthy.gina@epa.gov)

Call Region 6 head, Al Armendariz,  at  (800) 887-6063.

Today.

Everyone.

Please.

Today's The Day....Las Brisas Air Permit Decision In Austin

Many thanks to everyone who has contacted the EPA about the dangerous Las Brisas air permit.  They have listened to our community and asked the TCEQ not to issue the permit until their concerns are addressed.  Today, in a few hours, we will know if the TCEQ will listen to them. 

More thanks to those who are going to Austin today to look the TCEQ Commissioners in the eye while they make this decision. 

Let's all say a prayer for the health and safety of our children.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Action Alert: Tell The EPA To Intervene And Stop Las Brisas Today!

I'm making another call for mamas and other folks who care about kids to contact the EPA.  We need their help in a big way to stop Las Brisas.  The TCEQ Commissioners will decide on the Las Brisas air permit on Wednesday in Austin.  They have given no indication that they care about public health or the will of the people.  Maybe they will change course, but, in case they don't:

Please e-mail Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator (and copy Al Armendariz, EPA Region 6 and your elected State and Congressional  Representatives) and request the following actions:

1.) That the EPA needs to send a strong warning letter to Las Brisas that no construction should start until a MACT analysis is done.


2.)  That the EPA must halt construction of Las Brisas because TCEQ permits fail to protect citizens from the ill effects of particulate matter, ozone production, mercury emissions and nickel. 





Please contact the EPA today.  Your voice is so important.

First Day School: African-American Churches & That of God

Today was our first day at First Day School in awhile, and we were the only ones who showed up for Meeting!

The Young Friends "class" (my teen) was studying African American Baptist and AME churches and the intersection of faith and culture.  We also talked about Islam among African Americans and the importance of churches (and the SCLC) to the civil rights movement.  This was a good  segue into Black History Month coming up.  I think we will be re-visiting some good movies about the civil rights movement and race relations in the U.S. in the coming weeks.


The Little Friends and Lower El "class" (my six-year-old) summed up our last couple of years of study of the parables and Bible stories with a reminder that all those lessons were about the Presence of God and our belief that there is that of God in everyone.  We talked about how our coming lessons will go more into Quaker practices and testimonies.


I know I need to have the Meeting over for a meal soon, as we are too scattered, but things have been so hectic lately.  And cold.



Semester

Well, the semester ended a week ago Friday and report cards came out Friday.  Seems like a good time to reflect on how the girls are doing in their new schools.

The short answer is "Great".   Both girls have adjusted well and are thriving in their new schools.  Lone Star Pa and I feel very lucky that they are having such a good year.


High school has been a big transition for the Lone Star Girl.  Her social circle is shifting a bit as she is sort of disgusted with the prominence of sex and drugs, not nearly as common with her closer friends in middle school (not that she didn't have plenty of friends who did indulge, but not the same ones),  in some of the circles she used to see as her niche.  She has become very, very serious about her grades and I do worry some about the pressure she is putting on herself, but I can't say I'm not pleased to see her two nine weeks of straight A's and that she got A's on all her mid-terms.  She has really, really enjoyed being on the swim team this year, in spite of the lack of sleep and the cold, which she has not enjoyed.  She had a walk-on part in the fall play, participated in her first high school speech tournament last weekend and has been cast in quite a decent part in the upcoming UIL One-Act Play, which is probably going to be a rather big endeavor.  I am a little afraid that she is leading her theatre teacher on, as she is starting to talk about not doing theatre as her fine art throughout high school, having surprised herself by loving her art class this semester,  and he is starting to cast her like she's part of his serious team.  She is working on her Girltopia Journey in Girl Scouts, which is one of the requirements for her Gold Award and is considering a debate organization that just invited her to apply.

The Lone Star Baby loves her new school.   The afternoon-in-Spanish and science and social studies in the afternoon model is not resulting in nearly as much Spanish, science or social studies as I would like but I think it is more than she would get elsewhere - we are just spoiled from her old school's all day Spanish and equal emphasis on core classes.  Grammar, reading and math are obviously king at this new school.   She is pretty far ahead of her class in reading, one of the best Spanish speakers, and trucking along in everything else.  Her report cards are completely incomprehensible.  They show whether a skill has been "presented", is being "practiced", or is "mastered" but give no clues as to whether something being"practiced" should be "mastered" yet or not.  When I ask briefly, her teacher says she is progressing as she should be.  I have set up a conference for a week from Monday to get some more comprehensive information, but I am not concerned.  She reads, she does math, has learned time and money and all the basic parts of speech.  She knows about the planets and Hispanic Heritage, remembers her geography from her old school and she and her sister were even having a rather well-informed conversation about virology the other day - she's good.  She is enjoying Girl Scouts and her friends and is very into art and science.


I feel like this is a time when both of them, especially the Lone Star Girl, need a lot of parental support for their activities and just a lot of emotional support so they know they have a safe home base as they venture out into all of this new growth.  It is not easy to keep a good balance and I feel the Lone Star Baby has gotten the short end of the stick a bit this semester, but we are doing our best and trying to be aware of everyone's needs.


May they always manage so well.


How has your "semester" gone?  I hope it has been a good one.





Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's Here! It's Here! It's Here!

Our new, big, blue, single-stream recycling bin-cart-thing arrived yesterday!!!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One Of Those Days...

Last night, I accidentally fell asleep in the Lone Star Baby's bed after reading to her and no one woke me up before they went to bed themselves.  Fortunately, I did wake up sometime shortly before 1am to grouchily pack lunches and attend to other minor but necessary tasks.  In the midst of which, I noticed the Lone Star Girl moaning sickly in the bathroom.  Though most evidence pointed to a garden variety stomach bug, her cramps were quite severe, so I was worried.  After tucking her back in shortly before 2am, I told her dad not to wake her for swim practice and crossed my fingers that she would be well for school the next day, the stomach yucks being not that uncommon for her except for the severity of these. 

I climbed into my own bed and tried go to sleep but my mind had gotten started worrying and sleep was not coming, however aware I was of how soon 5:30am would arrive. After about an hour of tossing and turning, I heard a little voice from across the house, which gradually got louder, calling "Someone?"  I called back to the Lone Star Baby, asking what she needed and she said she was afraid that if she went back to sleep, she would have a bad dream.  I told her to come sleep in our bed and she shuffled into our room, snuggled in next to me and we both fell right to sleep.

This morning, the Lone Star Girl was still nauseous and very pale, so I called in sick and took her to the doctor (after dropping the Lone Star Baby at her school and getting things ready for a sub. at mine), still a bit worried about the severity of her cramps.  The doctor, of course, couldn't say for sure what's going on, but thinks it is just a stomach virus, as one which gives teens bad cramps and little ones high fevers is apparently going around (great).

Bought some bland food on the way home and here we are.

I hope she is well enough to go to swim practice tomorrow and the District Meet on Saturday.  I am canceling our Daisy meeting tomorrow night as I will definitely need to play catch up, best case scenario.   

We made it a little over a month without a doctor appointment, anyway.

She is resting and hungry and seems a bit better.



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Congress Voting On Health Care Reform

Today, the House is expected to vote on a proposal to repeal the health care reform bill.  The proposal is expected to pass the House but get stopped in the Senate.  I have not, however, heard of any House members volunteering to give up their beautiful, federal health insurance packages.  Hmmmm....

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Day, Girl Scouts & Training Them Up Young

To honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. and renew our commitment to his message of equality, peace and service, we put on our marching shoes and marched in the annual MLK Day March in Corpus Christi today.  Our family met up with our Daisy Girl Scout troop and a bunch of other Girl Scouts and marched amidst so many people who, like us, want to support the dream of which Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke so eloquently. After the March, we helped pass out cold weather supply bags to people who are homeless, an activity that, as you can imagine, became something of a race to serve with our energetic first graders.   There were more volunteers than people coming for the bags, but it was still very nice to get to help.

At the Daisy Girl Scouts' age, their efforts to participate in community service and activism are often more symbolic than truly effective, perhaps, but I think it is all about the exposure.  The more they see us prioritizing service and activism and the more chances they get to participate, the more it will become a part of who they are, integral to their lives.

Today was a good day to train them up, to teach them that the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. must live in all of us.  They must carry the dream into their own futures, far past ours.

New Leadership Needed For District Two

I really liked John Marez when he first became my City Council Member.  He worked for Child Protective Services,  which I have done before, and said many things that led me to believe he shared my values.  I don't think I was wrong about him back then, but time and political pressures worked upon him as they so often work upon those who start out with the interests of the people in mind.  

Now, he is different.


Now he is willing to listen more to his personal ambitions and those with the money to support or thwart them than to either the will of the people or to facts.  Now, he doesn't really care about protecting children anymore, even though his actual job is supposed to be protecting them everyday.  

I know he doesn't care about protecting children because he voted to sell out the water that the children of Corpus Christi will need when they are grown to a petroleum-coke plant that will poison our children.  He voted to support Las Brisas which will poison the air, water and soil that surround my children, his own children and all of the children of this and the surrounding communities.  

He got scared and sold out.


That is not what we need.


City Council elections are right around the corner and John Sloan says he will not sell our children out to Las Brisas.  He is running to become a City Council Member in District Two.  Check out what he has to say here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Check Out Rainbow Books at Its New Location!

Rainbow Books has moved!  The only independent children's bookstore in Corpus Christi (and, I think,  the best bookstore in Texas) is now located at 3636 S. Alameda #C, in Taylor Center.  If you are in Corpus or nearby, go visit this week!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Extra

Right before the Lone Star Baby started kindergarten, I weighed and measured her.  I remembered that my step dad, a family physician, always said that kids should be in the 40-40 Club, forty pounds and forty inches, by the time they start kindergarten.  The Lone Star Baby was over forty inches but she weighed only 36 pounds.  I called my step dad and told him she wasn't in the 40-40 Club.  He laughed and said she was perfect.  The summer before first grade, I weighed and measured her again.  She had grown taller but was still tipping the scales at 36 pounds and it sort of worried me that she hadn't gained a pound in a whole year.

Her tininess has lived in the back of my mind since her four-month doctor appointment when I found, much to my surprise, that my formerly "big" baby had dropped right off the growth charts.  I worried that she was starving herself at daycare, worried that there was something really wrong (but just a little - she seemed fine as long as she was with me).  Her doctor was good with "wait and see", thank heavens, although she was pretty adamant about getting some solids going at six months, even though most babies don't need more than a tiny bit of solid food for practice and iron that second half of the first year.  I tried to get my baby to eat solids but she was about as interested in them as she was in those bottles of expressed milk at daycare.  She really just wanted the good stuff - straight from the source.   To this day, she eats very sparingly indeed, and is way picky.

When she was a late walker (she would cruise, but would not let go - it seemed to be a balance issue), and had stayed off the growth charts for months, flat refusing the Pediasure I offered after she was a year old, my pediatrician sent us for all kinds of tests, but everything always came back normal and she was walking all over the place by sixteen months, so the doctor finally just accepted that she is a small person and we let it go.  Except you always think about things like that, in the back of your head, even when you know better.

I tried again with the Pediasure last summer after that weighing and she decided she liked it so I started giving her one serving of the stuff daily, more or less.  Within a few short months, she was up to 40 pounds, give or take a pound,  at last, but she still hasn't gained any more weight, and now she's almost 46 inches tall.  The other day, she chugged a bottle of Pediasure too fast and threw up.  I hope she doesn't stop drinking it now.  I'm still keeping her in the five-point harness in her car seat - the ones we've got are tested for up to 50 pounds in the harness and I think it may be a long, long while before we hit 50 pounds..



Sunday, January 09, 2011

Tell the EPA To Save Texas Citizens From The Negligence of The TCEQ

There's a meeting in Dallas on the 14th - be sure your voice is heard!  Information here.

Sweet Children

I've been a touch under the weather this weekend, starting late Friday night.  Lone Star Pa took the Lone Star Girl to her swim meet on Saturday and I'm taking a pass on everything I can avoid doing in favor of rest, though some things are unavoidable, of course, like grocery shopping and getting the school supply list of stuff for the spring semester at the LSB's school.

This morning, the girls brought Lone Star Pa and I breakfast in bed, a plan apparently master-minded by the Lone Star Baby and and made possible by her capable sister.  Then we all four sat in bed together and talked while having breakfast.  It was so nice.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

I Am the Queen

I got the baby.  Actually, there were three tiny alien babies and I got them all.  Feliz Dia De Los Reyes Magos.

Health Insurance Worries

My health insurance, which the girls are on, moved to a self-insured health insurance plan at the first of the year.  Our deductibles have gone from $1000 to $3000, since we can't afford $300 per month more in premiums.  I would switch the kids over to Lone Star Pa's health insurance in a heartbeat (ours used to be better but now his - which hasn't gotten any better - is), but our open enrollment periods are six months apart, so the only way to stay employed and do that would be either to have the kids uninsured for half a year or to pay double for both for half a year, neither of which will work for us.

I spent the 20 minutes that is allotted to me for lunch yesterday and the day before on the phone with the new prescription administration group for the plan.  We are now required to use this mail-order thing for all "maintenance" prescriptions and I just burst into tears thinking of how much work it is going to be to transfer all of the Lone Star Girl's prescriptions and figure out when they need to be ordered and paid for in three month supplies, seeing as how they are mostly not medicines as easy to count as pills.  Then they tried to talk me into getting her Epi-pens mail ordered, too, but that's not going to happen, seeing as how the medicine stops working if they are exposed to heat, and how dangerous it is.

And, of course, we are the lucky ones.  We have health insurance, even if it gets continually degraded.

What I would not give not give for a strong public option.

But the Republicans in Congress want to repeal even the bit of Health Care Reform that they let squeeze through.  Of course, they plan to keep their own excellent public health insurance plans - they just don't want the rest of us to have access to those benefits.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

More Recycling Bin Groupies?

Way too many people in dark-colored clothing running across Staples tonight.  I saw one well-but-darkly-dressed woman zip across the busy street with a little girl in light-up shoes at a spot where the only thing they were heading for was the rubble that was once Parkdale Plaza.  Going to check out the new recycling bins, perhaps?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Action Alert: Tell The EPA To Intervene And Stop Las Brisas Again

This week's assignment for mamas and other folks who care about kids involves contacting the EPA again.  We need their help in a big way to stop Las Brisas.

Please e-mail Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator (and copy Al Armendariz, EPA Region 6 and your elected State and Congressional  Representatives) and request the following actions:

1.) That the EPA needs to send a strong warning letter to Las Brisas that no construction should start until a MACT analysis is done.


2.)  That the EPA must halt construction of Las Brisas because TCEQ permits fail to protect citizens from the ill effects of particulate matter, ozone production, mercury emissions and nickel. 




It is our responsibility to let the EPA know unequivocally that the TCEQ is not doing its job and protecting us and that we need their help.  Please contact them today.  Your voice is so important.

The Fight Against Las Brisas: An Update

As you probably know, the SOAH judges recommended to the TCEQ Commissioners that the air permit for Las Brisas be denied again and we have been waiting to see if the TCEQ Commissioners are going to listen to the judges, doctors and scientists and the people of Texas at all, or just bend over for industry again.  (Anybody taking any bets on that one?)


The LBEC permit did not make it onto the December agenda for the TCEQ Commissioner Meeting and many had previously seen this as a sort of deadline - new air quality standards were to go into effect at the first of this year that would make the permit a dud that would need to be re-written and would require for Las Brisas to do all the things they have refused to do in order to get permit, so...we'd win.  (Feel the "but" coming?)


But...the EPA is delaying implementation of those new standards.  Some people still think that missing the January deadline is very significant in the demise of LBEC, but I am not sure that is going to be the case.  And there are other issues.  

After months and months of warnings that it would do so if Texas would not enforce the Clean Air Act on its own, the EPA has told Texas that it will take over permitting in Texas, since someone has to enforce the law.  Our governor, who fancies himself some sort of cowboy-secessionist (watch out, America - he's coming - I apologize profusely on behalf of my state for what we've been producing over here), has had his Attorney General file suit against the EPA for this blatant violation of state's rights (sound familiar?), blah, blah, blah.  The first federal court this was filed in just sort of laughed, I guess, and refused to hear the petition.  But you can't say that Perry's folks aren't dogged and word is that they found a court (somewhere in DC) that has agreed to hear them. 


So a lot is still up in the air (so to speak) and there is still a lot of work to do.