Sunday, January 27, 2013

The 83rd Legislature: Texas Community Colleges In Need

Word on the street is that Texas community colleges are going to get funded at a decrease this Session.  Even though most Texas college students are in community college, enrollment has dropped off some statewide since the last scary budget cycle.  Enrollment has not, however, dropped to anything close to as low as it would need to be for the budget left after the draconian cuts of the dastardly 82nd Legislature to come close to covering the funding our community colleges need.  So another cut this time around?  Really a problem.

 Of course, if the Lege doesn't even want to pay to educate the young 'uns, I guess we wouldn't expect them to take an interest in higher education, either.

Please contact your state legislators, mamas,  and let them know that you want public education and public institutions of higher education to get their funding back.

Thank you, Mr. Canales

Herb Canales, long-time director of the Corpus Christi public libraries and short-term assistant city manager, is retiring.  

I want to thank him for his years of service.

I also apologize for criticizing him for his plans to close or partially close La Retama Library (which I still think of as the central library).  I am sure he was doing the best he could in a bad funding situation.  I am desperate for there to remain a Northside library for the children with whom I work and their community, but Mr. Canales recently explained to me that he would not support there being no library in that part of town, they just needed it to be a smaller one than the majestic La Retama.

Already, I miss Sunday library time at La Retama very much as well as free inter-library loan (oh, how I miss it), but I understand.  I do. 

(I am still a little mad about the unwelcoming attitude towards homeless patrons.)

Overall, Mr. Canales has been an amazing public servant and will be missed.  Thank you.

Breast Pump Coverage Is Needed

I heard a story on NPR the other morning about how the new breast pump coverage in the Affordable Care Act is affecting the sale of breast pumps.  According to the business featured in the story, things are really booming.  The story went on to tell of women who already had breast pumps but who, since pumps are now "free", were going to go ahead and get another one - "why not?"  It then featured a very snooty economist who opined that these breast pumps were not necessarily going to encourage breastfeeding (and therefore be worth the cost by lowering health care costs) and would very likely be used by women who were "going to breastfeed anyway".  The gist of the story being that this provision of the Affordable Care Act was resulting in a bunch of expensive mooching off the government for no worthwhile result.

Clearly, the economist featured in the story and the planners of the story have never tried to desperately maintain a milk supply while at work using a cheap-ass pump.

You may not know that I am the Supreme Goddess of Pumping.  Really.  Go ahead - bow down - I am impressive.  I have two children.  I breastfed both of them exclusively for six months until they started eating solids and continued to nurse them afterwards for as long as they liked while still keeping a roof over their tiny little heads.  I pumped for one year for each child while at work and neither of them ever tasted a drop of formula.  The secret to my amazing Goddessness?  


Stubbornness certainly was a factor that I can take credit for because I would not have made it, even with the luck, without the stubbornness - pumping is hard - but the stubbornness would not have been enough either without the luck.  Luck was really the deciding factor.

So much for Goddesses and the whole bowing down thing.  Yeah - I don't actually deserve that.

The luck was threefold:  

One - healthy babies - the most important and best luck.  

Two - a job with flexible hours that allowed me to pump for over thirty minutes twice a day while taking phone calls and doing paperwork and still run over to the daycare and nurse at lunch most days.  I don't know how people with less flexible jobs like the one I have now do it because I barely pulled it off.

Three - a good Medela breast pump. (Medela!  Let me sing your praises!  Medela!  The only game worth playing!  Medela!  I love you forever, oh!  Oh!  Medela!)  I was lucky enough to be able to afford to rent (first time - they didn't have the personal ones yet) or borrow (second time - thank you, Sarah) a good Medela, the only brand of pump worth having.

As I nursed my babies over my lunch breaks and while dropping them off and picking them up at daycare, I would see countless new mommies start out with their good breastfeeding intentions and crappy pumps and within a few weeks of starting to work full time, they would give up and turn to formula and their little four-month-olds would start the long daycare dance of gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses that just seem normal after awhile.

These mothers did plan to breastfeed anyway, as the article says, but they were not lucky.  They could not afford the $300 Pump-In-Style and were trying to make do with a $40 crap-job from Gerber or the tiny Medela pumplet thing that is meant for pumping a bottle every few months or so when you might have to go to a doctor appointment without your baby.

Actually, I do know how mothers with less flexible schedules than I had then manage now - when they are lucky enough to have a good Medela.  Today's Medelas are much better than the good Medelas of my day - as much better than mine as mine was better than the crappy non-Medela pumps.  Almost every year, they improve the technology, creating pumps that mimic a baby's suck better and thus empty the breast more efficiently so that a mother can keep up her supply at work without having to spend a couple of hours a day at the pump.

Many mothers who intend to breastfeed can afford a crappy pump without health insurance, and if you are an at-home mother with a healthy baby, a crappy pump is all you need, for those occasional bottles in unusual situations.  If, however, you have a sick baby who is too weak to suck at the breast or if you must work or attend school full-time while nursing your baby, your intentions and a crappy pump are not going to be enough to keep up your milk supply, no matter how awesome you are.  You need a good Medela pump to make it work.  

Babies are expensive, especially when you are paying for daycare - something you do not want to do on the cheap - and many mothers cannot afford the pump they need to keep their babies healthy while they work.  The coverage that the Affordable Care Act now provides will make all the difference for working mothers who were not as lucky as I was.  

I just hope that as all the details settle, the pumps that get covered are the good Medela ones.  Deciding that only cheap crappy ones get covered really won't help.  I don't work for Medela or anything, I assure you - I just care about healthy babies.  

For now, the Affordable Care Act does, too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Las Brisas Is Dead!

Chase Power just went out of business!  Four years of struggling to protect our kids from this enormous public health threat and we have won!

Strong environmental advocates, physicians and the EPA brought us to this day even with the TCEQ's complicity in trying to issue illegal air permits!

See?  You can make a difference!

Sensible Reform on Guns

I am impressed with the President's bold but needed efforts to reform gun regulations.  I believe that they respect the concerns of legitimate, sane gun owners while putting the safety of our children before the crazed rhetoric of extremists.  I do not really think that an assault weapons ban is likely - although I think we need one - but I really, really hope we can at least get the ban on high-capacity magazines.

Texas Kids Graduate

A recent study shows that Texas students graduate from high school in four years (as opposed to more, or not at all) at a rate just higher than the national average.

So can we please stop taking all these tests now?  Pretty please?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roe v. Wade Turns 40

I doubt I would ever have an abortion for any reason, but I certainly hope they remain safe and legal.  There are far too many people out there who have proved that abortion is just a slippery slope issue to them - they want to push further and further and further in their efforts to control women's bodies and choices.  These tend to be the same people who have shown an unconscionable lack of respect for the sanctity of life when poor children and people who are not white are involved.  Letting the government make decisions about who lives and who dies is just a lose-lose proposition no matter what your beliefs are - you will probably not always be in the majority.

I believe that a woman who is pregnant is the only person who should have the authority to make decisions about her pregnancy. I may not agree with or condone every decision that every woman makes, but I do not think there is anyone who will weigh the issue more carefully than she will.  Certainly not the legislatures.

I am of Lugan's folk - the People of Life and Light -  for good or ill (and it is as often both) - but that is my choice.  My body, my choice, - no one else will ever choose for me because no one else could ever care as much as I would.

And That?!

Also, the President mentioned addressing climate change in his inaugural address!  Woo hoo!  Maybe our house will still be here in another 80 years!

Harbor Bridge Needs Fixing

Apparently, Corpus' beautiful Harbor Bridge - great landmark o' my youth - needs some major work.  Replacing the bridge (steel and coastal air is an expensive and somewhat impractical mix) was ranked the number ten transportation priority in Texas by the national non-profit group TRIP.  

Funding?  Not so much.

Lone Star Pa commutes over the bridge almost every day.

And I lub him.

So...we need funding.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Who Said That?

Did President Obama really stand up for gun control, gay rights and equal pay for women in his inaugural address?  I am liking the whole second term thing already!

Happy MLK Day!

The Lone Star Girl had a doctor's appointment this morning, which had originally been scheduled for this afternoon, so we did not do as much as we usually do to honor this day, but we did take the Girl Scouts to march in the annual local march that our community has every year to honor Dr. King's life and legacy.  They carried signs that the Lone Star Girl made:

Girl Scouts Believe In Dr. King's Dream!
Girl Scouts:  100 Years of Equality
"I will do my best to be honest and fair..." - The Girl Scout Law.

I love marching with tomorrow's dreamers.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The 83rd Legislature: Let's Hope It Can't Get Worse

It's that proverbial January of an odd-numbered year which means that the Lege is back to its scary hijinks in Austin.

Everyone always says Session is a dangerous time for Texans, but the 82nd Legislature was kind of a record for badness.  Draconian cuts to healthcare for the poor, staggering cuts to education, barely thwarted attempts to pass redistricting plans that maximized the electoral power of white people ... the Republican-controlled Lege is fighting our destiny as a swing state in 2016 very, very hard.

But that just makes such a destiny all the more certain.

I have my concerns about fracking (that's hydraulic fracturing, not sci-fi obscenities) but there is no doubt that it has brought the state a bunch of income since the close of the dastardly 82nd.  Our Rainy Day Fund overfloweth, and our coffers are full.

Governor Hair and Lt. Governor Dewhurst do not thus far sound as if they intend to use that new money to rebuild our educational system or care for our poor and sick.  

The Speaker sounds a bit more sympathetic to the concerns that the parents for Texas have about education, but I'm not really buying it.

We shall see.

Four More Years

I am happy that President Obama has been sworn in for four more years.  I wish he was less willing to send troops out to fight and less willing to keep them there and I wish he was more aggressive about setting up a green economy - a Green New Deal - and wish he was not so willing to be swayed by greedy corporate education "reformers", but I am definitely not your average American, in terms of ideology.  Like the majority of America, I am glad he is fighting for the poor and for the middle class, glad he is fighting for health care and women's rights, glad he supports sensible gun control and glad we will still have an Environmental Protection Agency.

Four more years of President Obama will be much better than anything else we had a chance at having.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Winter Waning

Its hard for me to feel like Carnival season starts on Epiphany.  I don't do winter well, and the period of winter stretching between the end of the winter holidays and Lent can just seem so dreary.  

Down here we get scatterings of truly warm days when spring starts to sing in your blood and I start thinking of ladybugs and spring plantings and long days instead of long nights ... but those days are like false prophets - they shiver back down into South Texas' mild version of cold and dreary soon enough. 

We have mostly packed up Christmas today.  I put out the stale leftover bits of Rosca de Reyes for the birds.  

I boldly planted a bit of chard, some spearmint, an herb I have not used or known before called salad burnet and, of course, some marigolds.  I scattered lettuce seeds in the dirt-filled kiddie pool that I planted with beans last year - I may not have grown as much protein as I wanted but, hopefully, I did fix a lot of nitrogen.

I am trying to decide what goes on the nature table now, what sort of wreath I should have on the door, what flags for the garden to mark this part of winter.  I think barren is the only decor that feels appropriate.

Still, I left work at just past six on Thursday and it was not dark, just dusk.  In moments it was dark, but that's real progress.

The Light grows.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Road Daughter: Permit

We finally got all the required paperwork and she is officially permitted and can start practicing!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Feliz Dia De Los Reyes Magos!

Happy Epiphany, everyone!  May the gifts of this day be the ones you need throughout the rest of the cold and dark.  Half-way through!  Take heart!

Who got the baby at your casa?

Meeting Baby

On the way to meeting today, the Lone Star Baby asked this:

"So, if only one other person is there, we will stay in Meeting so they won't be lonely, but if more than one other person comes, we will go have First Day School, right?"

I said that sounded like a plan and asked what she thought.  

She said she thought it was a good plan for "all the days".  

Only one other person, our clerk, came, so we stayed in Meeting for Worship.  The Lone Star Baby squirmed a little, but she was so, so good.  I love seeing her grow in the Spirit.


H-E-B Stories

Last night, Lone Star Pa and I were at H-E-B for the weekly grocery shopping trip.  As a  mother and two little girls were leaving, the alarm went off.  The family came back in, the mother confused.  I heard the checker ask the mom:  "Are those from Old Navy?" and the mother reply that they were. 

The little girls were wearing adorable matching colorful puffy vests.  The checker cut the tags off of the insides of their vests and they left with no further problem.

Apparently some Old Navy products are causing issues with the alarms at H-E-B.  Curious!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Baby Moon Revisited

I had a productive period reworking the introduction to my manuscript and making some notes on the bibliography today!  I'm going to keep my writing resolutions this year!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

House Republicans Block Renewal of Violence Against Women Act

What?  What?!  The House Republicans really, truly have blocked the reauthorization of VAWA, the bill that, since 1994, has funded programs like domestic violence case managers in police departments and services at battered women's shelters and the like. Their main problem?  The Senate's version specified that the women who need protection from violence include women who are immigrants, LGBT or Native American.

The Violence Against Women Act is gone, mamas.   

House Republicans are on the side of the batterers and the rapists and the bigots.  



Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Some Goals For 2013

I am leery of making resolutions with the challenges the last year and a half has brought me - just putting one foot in front of the other seems more appropriate most of the time.  I'm going to try, though.  I'm also going to be totally forgiving of myself if I fall short.


Work on my relationship with the Lone Star Baby who often gets the short end of the stick around here lately as we attend to her sister's busy schedule and talkative nature and other busy things in our lives.  More bedtime reading, more time spent together on chores, errands, etc.  No Disney or Nick unless it's in Spanish.  More family meals full of good discussions and more family games.

Spend time with the husband and make sure he knows he is loved.

Support the Lone Star Girl as she applies to colleges and for scholarships and spends her last year and a half at home (sob).

Spend time with my little sister before she moves away after the spring.

Really, I think those four are enough goals for me - plenty enough - but I will make some more. 


Lose thirty pounds (I need to lose more but I think 30 is good for one year) and keep it off.  

Spend more time outside.  

Work/Career-ish Things


Get high school certificate.

Start interacting more with the social work community again.


Become a more active citizen in environmental and other issues again.  

Spend time with friends. 

Be a good Girl Scout Leader.


Submit at least one poem each month.

Finish Baby Moon (I've only had the Bibliograhy left to go for like two years - I just lost interest) and a proposal for it.

Submit at least one essay/story/article per quarter.

Write for at least fifteen minutes at least five days each week (submissions count).

Publish Issue 11 of Lone Star Ma. (Please send submissions now!).

The list looks ridiculously exhausting to me on the whole - an outline of the fantasy life I would like to have rather than the reality I can manage.  I'll try to get closer to it, though, but I'll also try to stick to ways that make me feel happier, not ways that make me feel more overwhelmed.  That's a priority, too.


Happy New Year!

May 2013 be a year full of love, peace and joy for everyone.  Blessings.