Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year and Resolutions!!!

Happy New Year! My hopes are that everyone has a super year in 2006. My prayers are for peace.

I am going to post my New Year's Resolutions below and then, if you like, you may post yours in the comments!

Lone Star Ma's Resolutions for 2006:

I will provide more structure for the girls: more family meals, more routines and traditions. Things have been kind of chaotic since the Lone Star Baby joined us!

I will be more patient with the Lone Star Girl.

I will cope with Lone Star Pa's school work needs gracefully until he finishes his certification and not go nuts over the fact that I am never able to work on my own projects.

When he is certified (late spring, early summer), I will finish at least one of the several books I have been writing in tiny installments.

Now, you!!!!!

2006 Mama Calendars!

The 2006 Mama Calendars are ready! To get yours, while supplies last, send $12 per calendar plus $2 for mailing costs to:

Coleen Murphy
PO Box 741655
New Orleans, LA

or via Paypal to
More details & images can be seen on Coleen’s blog:

These are some great calendars!!

Friday, December 30, 2005


Time is an interesting concept to ponder at the changing of the year. It means so many different things. Have you ever looked at those Madeleine L'Engle chronologies where she charts the overlapping characters of her books on Chronos and Kairos timelines? Pretty deep stuff.

I always set my watch fast. It started when Lone Star Pa and I were first together. I think it was something he did and that we applied to all of our shared timepieces. Eventually, I got into the habit of setting my watch ten minutes fast. Eventually, Lone Star Pa got annoyed by fast timepieces and stopped doing it. At some point, I added a little extra-fast to my watch so that it is now somewhere between ten and fifteen minutes fast...but I do not know exactly how much. So now I never really know what time it is if I only have my watch to go by.

The Lone Star Girl owns several watches but wears none of them. She prefers to ask me what time it is constantly until I become unglued.

Anyone who knows my husband at all well knows that his most frequently used Lone Star Pa-ism is "Age and other numbers are just establishment illusions."

I enjoy a silly series of books by Jasper Fforde that center around a character named Thursday Next who is a literary detective and a Jurisfiction agent. Her father is a member of the Chronoguard, the law enforcement outfit responsible for protecting the timeline, much like the temporal agents on Star Trek. I often call the Lone Star Girl chronoguard as a perjorative. It is truly her calling and may - who knows? - end up being her life's work. She is a real fuddy-duddy about changing the timeline. Disapproves of Hermione and all.

Time slips through my fingers...runs from me like a cheetah. There is never time enough to accomplish the things I want to do...not even the things I just should do. The Lone Star Girl is ten years old...I am 34...the baby is 18 months...where does it go? If I slowed it down, even just a bit, the Lone Star Girl would probably arrest me or something but it just goes too, too fast...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Newest Sentence From The 18-Month-Old

The Lone Star Baby kept exclaiming "Read it again!" the other night whenever I finished a reading of the potty book upon which she is currently fixated.


Our prayers for the people of the Oklahoma and Texas grasslands. Prayers for safety, prayers for rain....

Pray for rain....

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Fallen Leaves and Mother Guilt

Lone Star Pa told me a story about when he and the Lone Star Baby were playing outside while the Lone Star Girl and I were at the movie yesterday. He said that she noticed all the leaves on the ground and was talking about them, so he told her they had fallen off the trees. She then started exclaiming Oh, no! Oh, no! and trying to stick them back onto the trees. He explained that the brown and yellow ones were supposed to fall off and that only the green ones were supposed to be on the trees and she eventually settled down.

Lone Star Pa and the Lone Star Girl had few such solitary interludes when she was a baby. When I was not at work, she was always with me. I think I saw one movie without her (one of the Star Wars re-releases) before she was four years old. Many mothers have much more time with their babies than I am allowed, but when a mother must work away from them as much as I must, I do not think there is really any room for other separations in the earliest years. There just isn't enough time. And yet...the Lone Star Baby has spent several periods of time away from me when I was not at work, many it sometimes seems.

My feelings haven't really changed. It's just that I have two daughters, now. It's difficult. While I firmly believe that the early years are the very most crucial time in a person's emotional development and while that belief of mine causes the Lone Star Baby's need for time with me to trump everything else the vast majority of the time when I am not at doesn't really do to deprive a blossoming pre-teen girl of one-on-one time with her mother either, you know? So I have had to compromise, as we all have to all the time, I know...but still. It feels at those times when I carve out some alone time for my older child that while it is right and necessary for her, it is wrong and harmful for the baby. Children are resilient, of course. I am doing the best I can do, of course. It troubles me, really, really does.


Yesterday was the day I was given off of work for the Christmas holiday, so we were all home together, except for when I took the Lone Star Girl to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardobe. The movie was as well done as it could have been, I think. I liked Lucy and especially Mr. Tumnus. Also, Father Christmas. I could feel the Lone Star Girl stiffening beside me when it was getting to the part during which those sexist comments are made about girls and battles in the book...but the movie didn't make them. That gives me hope that the future movies will also avoid the rest of C.S. Lewis' bigotries. He was an interesting mix...such magic mixed with such old-fashioned ugliness. I missed all his prejudices when I read the books as a child, but they were very evident to me as an adult and they were very evident to the Lone Star Girl at just seven when I read the books to her. Still, the books are just so magical. I am glad the movies are starting with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. When I was a child, boxed sets of the books began with that one, but the set that the Lone Star Girl received on the Christmas that she was seven had The Magician's Nephew first. It does come first chronologically, but I think The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is much more engaging and the proper place to start. Although I do remember seeking out numerous Smugglers' Coves after reading The Magician's Nephew as a child. We had a good time at the movie.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Very, Merry Christmas!

I hope you all are having a beautiful, peaceful holiday. We are certainly blessed.

Last night, we had dinner at the home of the "other-Quaker-family-with-children" in town. I just love them and it was so nice of them to invite us and we had a lovely time. Then we drove around a bit to look at Christmas lights on our way home. At home, the children opened their Christmas Eve pajamas (pink with monkeys for the Lone Star Girl, red with Spider-Man for the Lone Star Baby) and put them on. Lone Star Pa read 'Twas The Night Before Christmas and I read the nativity story from the Gospel of Luke. Then the Lone Star Girl read the story on the last book from our advent calendar, hung it on the tree and put the figure of Baby Jesus in our nativity scene. We let the girls open presents from far-flung relatives and put out milk and cookies from Santa before they went to bed.

This morning the girls let us sleep past nine. It was nothing like when I was a child and, as the oldest, had to sleep across the door in the same room as my five siblings to prevent any of them from escaping before 6am, the time my parents deemed the absolute earliest that it was acceptable to wake them. We had a good sleep! Then the girls pillaged their stockings, oohed over their Santa-presents and unwrapped their presents from us. We had a brunch of the Lone Star Girl's special scrambled eggs, sweet orange rolls and breakfast strips, talked to out-of-town relatives on the phone and watched a movie that the Lone Star Girl had received. After naps, we went to visit my grandad and his family and now we are snug at home, cooking Christmas dinner. Lone Star Pa does have a touch of what I call the male-holiday-malaise (is it only men in my family who invariably get sick on all family holidays?), but otherwise we are having a great Christmas together. I hope you are all snug and happy with your families, too.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Currently Reading...

Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld & Gabor Mate
Gibbon's Decline and Fall by Sheri S. Tepper

Just Finished:
The Gate To Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper
The Cradle Robbers by Ayelet Waldman
Singer From The Sea by Sheri S. Tepper

Next: Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich

She Blogs!!!

Mama's so proud! Check out why at:

Tales From Your Pre-Teen Writer

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Last Day...

More intense than all the activities going on at the Lone Star Girl's school yesterday, though, were the emotional good-byes that happened later at the Lone Star Baby's school. It was her last day at the day-care center where she has spent the last 15 months+, since my maternity leave ended when she was 12 weeks old. We are really going to miss her teachers! She is really, really going to miss them!

I feel so bad moving her to a different school. We have had nothing but excellent, amazing care where she is, but I think the babies are really their strong point at that school. If I could keep her with the wonderful, amazingly talented and caring teachers she has now, I would never, ever, ever move her, ever. But I can't. She was scheduled to move up to a different room this week if we had stayed; she would have had to leave her beloved teachers anyway. We don't really know the older rooms' teachers and so it is a good time for her move. Still.

It was hard.

The main thing I am looking forward to at the new Montessori school is that she will have the same teacher until she turns 3, then another teacher who she will have through her kindergarten year, ideally. I think it's better if she doesn't have to love people and then move on from them so often, and they change teachers like every six months in the toddler years at most day-cares. I think this will be better.

She will spend the rest of this week and next home with Lone Star Pa. Then I will take those first few days of January off with her and she will start her new school on the 5th! We keep talking about her visit and she seems excited about it. So much change!

Culture/Multi-Generational/Winter Party Day

Well, the Lone Star Girl's illness was just a fluke, I guess. Although she puked at school and the nurse said her temperature was 100.5 degrees, once she got home she never puked anymore, had no more fever, said she felt fine and spent the day badgering Lone Star Pa to let her go back to school. Yay. So we sent her back the next day, yesterday. I don't think she had truly been sick...probably just overheated.

Yesterday was the fourth grade's "Culture Day". The fourth grade studies Texas and they do a pilot project in which the kids are split into groups and each study one of several main cultures that immigrated to Texas and settled here. The Lone Star Girl is studying Ireland, where most of her maternal ancestors came from to escape famine. (She once asked me if there were any Celtic Queens or Princesses among our ancestresses. I told her no: just a bunch of starving people.) They move to different classrooms to study their chosen cultures, but have also learned a cultural dance in their homerooms. The Lone Star Girl's class learned a French folk dance. Yesterday, all of the children dressed up in the culture they were studying and had a parade in the morning. The Lone Star Girl wore a green and blue plaid dress with a thick sweater over it and a green hat...bit stereotypical perhaps, but she was cute. The different classes then each performed their dances for the rest of the grade and assorted parents and guests.

It was also the day for the class's senior citizen service project. I was in charge of organizing this for the Lone Star Girl's class. I am not good Room Mom material, as I have discussed in a previous post, but I did my best. I focused on activities that would allow kids and seniors to work together at something, rather than the typical kids doing-for thing, because I have learned from our City's Senior Community Services Division that it is important to break down stereotypes that seniors are helpless, etc. I wanted to have a chair volleyball game with the seniors and students, something local seniors from the senior centers do sometimes, but the teacher was really into a book group idea so we went with that. Several senior volunteers came and watched the children's dances, then came to our classroom. They broke into groups with the students and discussed a book they had read for the occasion, and books and reading in general, while having refreshments. Then they did a craft I had organized, making little beeswax ornaments together, so that each child and senior had a momento of the time they spent together. It went pretty well, I thought.

It was also the last day before Winter Break, so all the classes had their winter parties. Each child in the Lone Star Girl's class brought a food from the culture they were studying. It was fun. Busy day....

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Bad News for Birthing

An article by Katherine Hobson in a recent issue of U.S. News & World Reports discusses an emerging but not yet common trend in obstetrics - the use of "OB hospitalists" or "laborists" to deliver babies in hospitals. These are OBs employed by hospitals who only attend labors and deliveries in hospitals, meaning that a woman's personal OB/midwife would oversee her prenatal care and this new professional, who she would not meet until she was checked in at the hospital, would attend her birth. The reasons for this trend's emergence stem from strategies being explored to alleviate the exhaustion and overwork that plague the lives of most OBs and that could potentially dull their reflexes in an emergency - good things to be trying to fix. I don't think this is a good way, though. The article quotes a large hospital system's regional administrator of women's heath services expressing that most women don't mind the model because most women see OBs in practices where any OB in the practice, and not the woman's own, might attend her birth anyway. This is sadly true, although in most such practices, a woman at least gets to meet the other OBs if she wants to do so. It is true, but it isn't good.

In more progressive practices, a midwife or OB will give their home number to a woman who expresses preferences about the sort of birth she wants to have so that the attendant can attend the birth whether she or he is on call or not. Also, if they are not going to be available, they will discuss the case with their back-up to see to it that the family's wishes can be respected in their absence. It does not sound like much of this would happen with the new system.

Most U.S. births today occur in ways that stress convenience and lack of legal liability for physicians and hospitals. They do not, unfortunately, stress safety for mothers and babies. Study after study has shown that midwife attended births, which usually are more personalized and occur in the context of a relationship between family and birth attendant and which emphasize natural methods of pain relief and labor progression, rather than over-reliance on less safe chemical and surgical methods, are actually safer births, with better outcomes for mothers and babies alike. Innovations that move mothers more into the hands of hospitals, which specialize in drugs and surgery, are not true progress. We are all glad that hospitals are there with their medicines and surgeries for emergencies, but natural methods, employed by attendants who know a laboring woman and her needs, should be the norm. This trend would just move the norm even further from that ideal.

Poor Left Behind Baby Sister!

I am the eldest of my siblings so that is usually my perspective. It was easy to see the Lone Star Baby's perspective today, though! Poor little thing! One of the Lone Star Girl's neighborhood friends came over to play and the Lone Star Girl ran off with her outside, shutting the front door behind her. The Lone Star Baby stood at the door, crying "Sissy! Sissy!"; it just broke her baby heart that the Big Girls left her behind!

The Lone Star Girl is really a wonderful big sister who spends lots of time with the baby, but not everything a ten-year-old does is conducive to including a baby, of course. Poor little sweetheart. She wants to be big, too!

Wonder Woman!

The Lone Star Baby is quite recovered. When she was feeling puny, I gave her a couple of pieces of modeling beeswax to amuse her. She fashioned one into a bracelet, so I made her a bracelet from the other one, also, and sang "Wonder Woman!" at her while she waved the bracelets on her wrists. I am a Wonder Woman fan myself, and it turned out she just loved this game. Now she goes around the house, with the beeswax on her little wrists, singing "Wonder Woman!" Her dad then played the WW song for her and she was thrilled. Although the Wonder Woman interest comes from me (Lone Star Pa is not into DC characters), my husband is a life-long comic book collector and we have Marvel stuff all over the place. The Lone Star Baby is a long-time fan of Spider-Man, sporting a Spider-Man lunchbox, jacket and new I bought before I realized she could not wear them to her new school!

In an ironic twist of fate, many of the Lone Star Baby's possessions will not be allowed due to the school's policy prohibiting "violent characters", and specifically naming Spider-Man and Hulk, among others. This is ironic because I am the most strict mother I know when it comes to violent media of any kind, including books. I do not allow my children exposure to any violent media before the age of 7, even very high-quality literature like The Chronicles of Narnia books, because I believe children's minds are very absorbent before that time and that they have no filters to prevent them from becoming what they are exposed to in those early years. I do not know anyone else who is as careful about this as I am, so it seems really weird that such a policy, which I fully agree with in principle, would be so inconvenient for us. The Spider-Man and Wonder-Woman that the Lone Star Baby knows are not violent, though. They come from Spider-Man & Friends books about playing frisbee and cuddly dolls and songs that do not show any fighting. Since the Lone Star Baby has never experienced them in a violent context at all and does not know that they are ever portrayed with such a context, I have no problem with them. I will have to comply, though. We'll just have to play dancing super heroes at home!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Coxsackie Christmas

One of the things that was not wonderful about Tuesday night was that, during the concert, the Lone Star Baby nursed right to sleep. I noticed that her cheeks were a bit flushed and her little hands felt a bit warm. Then, when she woke, she watched the whole rest of the concert quietly...very not like her. By the time we got home, she was quite feverish. Both girls have hands that get the hottest when they are feverish (not that the Lone Star Baby has had more than a couple of fevers but I see a pattern) and the Lone Star Baby was shaking her hands at me, saying "hot! hot! hot!" I took her to the doctor yesterday morning and the doctor showed me how raw her little throat was. Sad as it is, we working moms must hope these throat and ear infections are bacterial because that means an antibiotic will likely have them back at school within 24 hours. The swab was negative,'s a virus. The doctor said three or four days. Lone Star Pa and I are tag-teaming it, which we really have to do because of work responsibilities, but I feel terrible when it's my time at work because she wants me. Arar (sad seal sounds).

Choir Chimes Girl

The Lone Star Girl had her first choir chimes concert at the PTA meeting on Tuesday night. She was so excited. They all wore their fancy holiday clothes and looked so festive. Their music teacher had all the choir chimes ensemble in white gloves as well...fancy, fancy. They looked elegant. They played several songs, and the choir and percussion ensemble also played some songs. The Lone Star Girl has just adored being part of this choir chimes ensemble. Her music teacher is amazing...she has put in tons of extra time really developing their music program. It is wonderful. One of the reasons I caved and sent the Lone Star Girl to this GT school, even though I have issues with it being a GT school, is that they have both art and music every single week. Most of the schools have to share art and music teachers with another school and alternate weeks. Did I mention that the Lone Star Girl was excited? Really excited. It was wonderful.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I hung up our stockings last night and this morning. We don't have a fireplace, so we hang them over an interior doorway. Lone Star Pa & I share an "Our First Christmas Together" stocking that my mom gave us the first year that we lived together. The Lone Star Girl has a red and green felt stocking that I personalized for her years ago by cutting out the letters of her name in red felt and gluing them across the top of the stocking. Last night, I cut out glittery red felt letters for the Lone Star Baby's name and a glittery red felt heart and glued them on a small, standard red holiday stocking. I laid it out to dry and hung the other two, then hung the Lone Star Baby's up this morning. Our house is just getting more and more festive!

The Gift of Music: Carolling

We took the Girl Scouts carolling at a nursing home on Friday night. Everyone really seemed to enjoy their singing and when they were finished, the staff asked if they would sing in the Alzheimer's unit, also, so they went over to it and sang their songs again. When they were first-year Brownies and we first took them to sing at a nursing home, they were so shy and afraid. A few years and a few trips of carolling and pet parades later, and they are at ease and gracious. It is good to see them grow in confidence and caring.

School choirs come to sing (and even play recorders!) at City Hall this time of year. It is such a gift to hear their little voices brightening up the halls where public servants work so hard on things that often take so long to come to fruition. Music is one of the nicest things about the holidays, I think.

Monday, December 12, 2005

18 Months: Quantity, Color and Words, Words, Words!

Today, the Lone Star Baby insisted on holding both the leftover cups of milk I had packed for her day in the car on the way to pick up her sister from after-school care. When I went to unbuckle her at her sister's school, she jutted her chin at the cups in turn and said "Two."

The Lone Star Baby started talking about shapes at about a year, but colors have thus far eluded her. Just this week, though, she seems to have figured out pink and blue and likes to go around pointing at things saying "Pink!" or "Bueoooo..."

The Lone Star Girl was a very verbal baby, as well, but it is hard to remember clearly. I really don't think she talked as much as this one does by a long shot. It was fun to keep up with the baby's vocabulary for a few months, but now, I couldn't possibly. It seems to have grown geometrically and I would have to guess it at around 300 words, but I really have no idea. She says "Hestia" (our cat's name), "dinosaur", the names of everyone she knows and their pets if she has met them, she knows that "cold" and "frio" mean the same thing, as well as "wind" and "viento" and uses them correctly. She says not only "tree", but also "bark" and "leaf". She labels shapes, animals, animal sounds, body parts, just about everything she sees or ("airplane!") hears. She employs simple commands like "hold you!","walk!", "outside!", "down!", "all done!", "other one!", "cup!", "milk!", etc. and sometimes softens them with "please" and the occasional "thank you". I'm not being boastful, just...a little dazed, I guess. Life with these small ones is always such an amazement a minute and she is amazing me more than I expected. I thought I was an old hand, already, so she has to teach me different!

First Day Schools Connecting

At our last First Day School meeting, we had received a letter from the children of another First Day School asking us about ourselves. They were concerned for our well-being since we live on the Gulf Coast and wanted to know if they could help us in any kind! They told us about their Meeting and their First Day School and sent us some sunflower seeds to brighten our Meeting. We usually only meet on first and third Sundays, but we had the other child in our First Day School come over last night so we could reply to their letter. The girls thanked them, assured them that we were unharmed and fine and told them about our Meeting and First Day School. They sent them some marigold seeds, some seashells and one of the puzzle books they made. We also planted the sunflower seeds and had dinner. I love it when we get to spend time together like that. Now my head is also spinning with projects we might be able to do that involve more communication with other First Day Schools....

Goblet of Fire

We finally got to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire yesterday, as we had our first not-on-the-road, no-house-guest weekend since it came out. I took the Lone Star Girl and my little cousin who is her age. I really liked it. It has been ages since I read the book and I did not remember the story very well, so I had no continuity issues. The girls liked it, too. It was great to see it and great to see our cousin. A fun afternoon!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

First Visit

Today, I left work early and picked the Lone Star Baby up and took her to her first visit at her new school. She starts on January 5th, but I had told them that she is rather slow to warm up so they wanted her to visit her new teacher a couple of times first. It was 4pm, and the other toddlers were already in the after-school area, so she and the teacher had the classroom to themselves. She was more clingy than I had even worried about at first (and I had worried), crying "Mom! Mom!" if I tried to sit even a foot away from her and wanting to be right on top of me. She clearly got that there was something big going on. She did not, however, seem disturbed that la senora spoke to her only in Spanish, which she doesn't understand yet, and from the very beginning, she watched the teacher with intense concentration as she was shown how to feed the fish, water the plant and use several other of the materials in the room. It wasn't very long before she was hooked...there was just so much fascinating stuff in there! And then she warmed right up to her teacher. She became a busy little bee, exploring all the exciting materials. When it was time to go pick up her sister, she didn't want to leave!

Ah, Social Work...

Every year around this time, something happens that makes me question my choice of profession:

I get Christmas cards from the psychiatric hospitals.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Remember When We Believed In Freedom?

When I was a child, there was this nation that we called the Soviet Union. It was huge...spanning from the westernmost part of Eastern Europe into Asia at some places. I was just a kid at the time and I have no way of knowing what life was really like in that country, but I know what our leaders told us it was like. We were told that the government of the Soviet Union spied on its citizens, that people who disagreed with the government got kidnapped by the KGB (their version of the CIA) and "disappeared" to secret prisons. We were told that people were tortured. And you know what? We all agreed that those things were very, very bad. The Soviet Union was The Bad Guys in our estimation because they were thought to do those things which Americans, living in freedom and democracy, deplored. Who are The Bad Guys now? How can we be The Good Guys if we do those things which define Bad to a free people? Young people growing up now don't even remember back when Americans thought that we had a right to privacy and to fair trials. What has happened to us? Do you feel safer than you did four years ago?

Advent Wreath

This tradition is a holdover from my Catholic childhood. For those who are not familiar, it is a wreath with four candles, three purple and one pink, in it. On the first week of Advent, you light one candle every night, on the second week, two, etc., as you wait for Christmas. The pink candle is for the third week to celebrate being almost there! The Lone Star Girl loves to light the candles. Unfortunately, the Lone Star Baby seems to be afraid of fire this year, so I don't think it is going to get much use after all.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Advent Calendar

We have a wonderful Advent Calendar that is another of our holiday traditions. It is sturdy enough and designed so that it can be used over and over again...I'm sure we've had it for five or six years already. Each day, you take a little cardboard book out of a recessed pocket in the calendar. Each book has a tiny part of the Christmas story printed and illustrated on its tiny day is about Mary, one about Joseph, one about the Angel Gabriel, etc., until the very last one, on Christmas Eve, is about Baby Jesus. Each little book has a loop of gold thread strung through a hole punched in one corner as well. Each night, the Lone Star Girl takes out the little book for that day and I read it to her and her sister, or she reads it to us, or Lone Star Pa does. Then, the girls hang it on a small "tree" on a little Advent Tree!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Great Books with Winter Holiday Themes for Children

Three Wise Women
by Mary Hoffman

Lone Star
by Barbara Barrie

A Dozen Silk Diapers
by Melissa Kajpust

Too Many Tamales
by Gary Soto

The Winter Solstice
by Ellen Jackson

A Full House
by Madeleine L’Engle

The Gifts of Kwanzaa
by Synthia St. James

What Child Is This?
by Caroline B. Cooney

The Winter Gift
by Deborah Turney Zagwyn

Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas
by Madeleine L’Engle

The American Friends Service Committee Calls for A Just Minimum Wage

The Magi

The Magi are one of our family traditions that the Lone Star Baby is just learning about this year, since she was too little to get around much last Christmas. We have a little Nativity scene that we set up on a bookshelf in the living room during the Christmas season. We set up the stable and put in Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and angels and sheep and a donkey and a cow. We save the Baby Jesus out and put Him in on Christmas Eve. The best part is the Magi, though. We set them up down the hall...Caspar with his camel, Melchior with his black horse and Balthazar with his elephant...and a weird little stuffed camel toy that doesn't really go with the set but which follows them like a stray (sometimes Spiderman and Hulk follow them, too, and then Lone Star Pa and I have to have a little talk). Every day, the Lone Star Girl (and the Lone Star Baby now) moves them one step closer to the bookshelf Bethlehem. They travel until the Feast of Epiphany, when they arrive to give the Christ Child their odd gifts. I love this tradition and so does the Lone Star Girl. Needless to say, there was a lot that the Lone Star Baby was loving about the Nativity scene today. The Lone Star Girl kept trying to take the pieces away from her and put them back in their right places but I let her play with else will she learn the magic? When I was nursing the Lone Star Baby to sleep tonight, Lone Star Pa poked his head into the bedroom and asked why there were only two Wise Men. I held up the Lone Star Baby's hand, in which she clutched Balthazar, and he smiled. They'll all make it to Bethlehem eventually.

Christmas House

We finally got the tree up and the house decorated for Christmas tonight. I am always afraid that we never will and that our busy schedules will rob the children of a festive holiday season. I feel better now...Lone Star Pa found the box that contained the ornaments the children have made...those are the Christmas decorations that matter to me...they mean an incredible lot to me, in fact. So much that I felt furious when he did not at first find them and overwhelmingly relieved when he did. So silly. The Lone Star Girl has made a lot of ornaments over the years and there are even a couple up from the Lone Star Baby now. I love all of the ones they have made. My favorite is the jellyfish ornament that the Lone Star Girl made in Sea-Schoolers class years ago from the bottom of a water bottle, some ribbon and lace. I also am floored by the tin heart that she cut out in art class and punched a design into...those are the very favorites among so many favorites. Now, we can proceed with the holiday traditions and maybe make some more...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

First Day School

The girls (all two of them, the LSG and a wonderful thirteen-year-old who is a marvelous influence on my wild child) finished up the puzzle books we've been making in First Day School today. We've been making them for like a year, because I am such a bad First Day School teacher that we've missed a lot of meetings. Each book has crossword puzzles, word-finds, a maze, a code-cracking puzzle and a word scramble in them, all on Quaker topics, that the girls made themselves. There are ten copies to share with our tiny Meeting and the girls made unique covers for each one. Today they were binding the books, the final step, by punching holes along one side and sewing the books together with yarn. It took longer than we had in the hour that is ours before Meeting starts, so I just had the girls keep sewing them up during Meeting on the other side of the room (our Meeting is so small that we meet in another church's Sunday school classroom instead of having our own Meetinghouse) and I sat and helped them. It was so nice, sitting there with them, the Silence punctuated by the soft clattering of their scissors and the rustle of their papers...the children were like a poem, working there, so quiet, but noisy in contrast to the other adults. I love them.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

School Excitement

I've had the Lone Star Baby on the waiting list to attend the Spanish immersion Montessori program in our town since before she was conceived. It starts at eighteen months, which she will turn in early December, and she is at the top of the waiting list. They had recently told me that she would have to wait to attend until fall as a child was not going to move up into the Children's House until then, but yesterday I got a surprise phone call and it was the Montessori program saying that a child was leaving over the winter break and they would have a space for her after all, if we want it. Now I feel sort of scared and rushed and excited. Changing our routine, expenses, etc. when I had adjusted to the idea of her starting in the fall is throwing me off a little and I would not want to do it if she could stay with her current teacher through May until Lone Star Pa is off for the summer. She would have to move up to a different room at her current school at winter break time anyway, though, so it may be the right time. I hate to think of upheaving her, but changing rooms will be an upheaval, too...I just don't know.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Dysfunctional Family Therapy (Adult) Mad Libs

I bought some of these to do with my siblings when I go to visit them in North Texas this coming week. It's going to be fun! I loved Mad Libs when I was a kid!

I will be offline until Monday the 28th. Have a great Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Congress Passes Over 50 Billion Dollars in Cuts to Social Services

These would be cuts to things like foster care, which have already been cut to the bone. Who thinks that fewer safety nets are what the children of this nation need...less food, less shelter, having to be left alone or in horrible childcare settings because there is no affordable, high quality childcare and little assistance for it, more abuse and neglect? Congressional Republicans think so. Expect higher crime rates and get ready to fund more prisons. That is what you will receive.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Who is having an escamocha for dinner?

I am! And it is soooo good! For those yankees among you (north of San Antonio and all) who don't know what that is, it is a fruit cup (watermelon, grapes, bananas, apples, kiwi, strawberries, cantelope, cherries, coconut, pineapple) with yogurt, granola and honey....mmmmm! There is a paletera on the route that I take between my office and City Hall (usually an at least once-a-day trip) that has la mejor fruit cups. When I was pregnant with the Lone Star Baby, I used to get a fruit cup with salt, lime y chile almost everyday for lunch. That was what I really wanted then, so I only ordered escamochas when I thought I needed a little protein boost. Now, I'm sort of still tired of the regular fruit cup and am in an escamocha mood. When you want to be a bad mama, they have fresas con crema as well. MMMmmmm.....

C-Section Rate in U.S. reaches all-time high

The last thing I want to be is condescending, but it is so difficult for women who are living in the mainstream U.S. culture to get good information about what "needing a c-section" really means, as opposed to getting one because doctors are rushing or doing the CYA thing. Really, the only resources that give out good information are so hippy-dippy that they would be culturally distasteful to most U.S. moms. There has got to be a way that moms who are not home-birthing, cloth-diapering, placenta-planting types (I did none of those three things but I am the type and I totally 100% understand why mainstream America wouldn't want to listen to me) can still get decent information about how childbirth works so they don't get railroaded into major surgery that they'd rather not have and that carries risks that usually outweigh the risks it is being advocated for to prevent. I haven't found it, though. All the mainstream resources I've read about childbirth advocate methods that almost guarantee a medicated and often surgical birth, although they don't admit to doing so. I am at a loss as to how to help.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ferber Recants

Does anyone else imagine heartbroken, lonely little babies saying "Too little, too late! Ferber sucks baby formula!"?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Last Chance In Texas

I am reading Last Chance In Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth by John Hubner. It is truly an excellent book. About Giddings State School, the Texas Youth Commission facility that houses our state's most dangerous juvenile offenders, it reminds me of how very lucky we are to have the TYC, run by such smart folks. Warning: this book has left me in tears a lot and I make my living working with criminal youth. Either it is a fairly overwhelming book or I am cycling dangerously close to compassion fatigue. I highly recommend this book...I think it could help a lot of people reach some understanding about effectively protecting society from crime.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Miranda #14

I just finished reading Issue 14 of Miranda, one of my favorite zines. It was the best issue yet...reflections on motherhood, literature and reference editing. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Question Hands

The Lone Star Baby, upon hearing or saying a question word like "where" will sometimes lift her arms, elbows bent, hands facing up, in the classic question/I-don't-know pose. She even adds big exaggerated eyes when she does it...I don't know where she picked it up. She is SO cute.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


It looks like Prop. 2 passed. A victory for bigotry and poor legal construction everywhere. People can be so mean to each other.

Go Vote!

When I reminded Lone Star Pa last night that he needed to be sure to make time to vote today, he said he would but not if they had those electronic machines. He said he would boycott those if they had them because they were - his words - rigged. (Yeah, rigged! the Lone Star Girl started muttering, The election is rigged! What to do about her conspiracy theories? Therapy? Medication?) I told him not to be silly (and told the Lone Star Girl that the County Clerk was on our side so she didn't need to worry) and reminded him that we always get the fill in the arrow ballots. Then today, when I went to vote...electronic ballots! I hope Lone Star Pa was kidding.

Go vote!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Slumber Party

Not counting the Lone Star Baby, who is asleep in our family bed with Lone Star Pa, there are six little fourth grade girls stretched out watching Harry Potter movies on sleeping bags in my living room, about an hour past midnight, as I type this...the Lone Star Girl's birthday party. So far, they've made English muffin pizzas for dinner and eaten them, followed by cookie cake with ice cream. They've made sculpy designs, which we baked, and hot-glued them onto barrettes. They've decorated pink visor hats with pre-cut foam shapes and glue and they have watched one movie and are just starting to watch another. There are two more back-up movies and breakfast to get through in the morning. Only three incidents of tears so far (girls, not me), and I think two of them were fake. All of the girls, except for my little cousin, are members of the Girl Scout troop that I led for 3 years, so I know them all well, but we have spent less time with everyone since the baby came, so they keep surprising me. The Lone Star Baby spent the time before she went to sleep muttering "Girls? Girls?" and trying her best to say their names. Even she wants to be big. I am going to go give the little women some hopefully suppressing speech and leave them to their movies and go to bed now. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Currently Reading (with a nod to Lone Star Pa)

Ms. Moffett's First Year: Becoming a Teacher in America
by Abby Goodnough

From Coleen on the Mama Calendar:

"call for submissions - the mama calendar
submissions now sought for the 2006 edition of the mama calendar!
straight outta new orleans,
against all odds, and by the seat of my pants,
the 2006 calendar will hit the presses mid-december.
the mama calendar is a community building-consciousness raising
resource by, of, about and for progressive, feminist, activist mamas
and their families, friends & allies everywhere. it is a celebration
and a call to action, a thing of beauty to last the year.
edited by coleen murphy, the calendar features a blend of
photos of mamas, babies, children, dads, and friends, as well
as a guide to mama-made zines, alternative parenting
resources, recipes, recipes for revolution, great dates in radical mama
herstory, and the work of numerous artist/activist/mamas.
recent editions have featured ayun halliday, victoria law, laurel
dykstra, sonja smith, trula breckenridge and heather cushman-dowdee, among others.
to join the ranks, send your photographs, poems, rants,
reviews, recipes, remarks, scrawls, comics, hopes, dreams and etc.
by November 21 to
coleen murphy
PO box 741655
new orleans, LA
or via email to coleen at
prints of images are preferred; digital photos must be black
& white and high resolution.
how else can you support the project? beat the mad
holiday rush and ensure the future of the mama calendar
by ordering yours today!
calendars are $12 a piece plus $2 for mailing costs
via the above mailing address or via paypal to coleen at
the 2006 calendars will be mailed out around december 15;
in the event that insufficient orders come in, all payments
will be refunded at that time."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

LLLI Responds to AAP Policy Statement on SIDS

Contact: 847-519-7730: Mary Lofton ,, ext. 271; Mary Hurt ,, ext. 286; or Katy Lebbing ,, ext. 245.

Schaumburg, IL (October 2005) La Leche League International (LLLI) is concerned about the October 10, 2005 policy statement on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Task Force on SIDS. The recommendations about pacifiers and cosleeping in the statement reflect a lack of basic understanding about breastfeeding management. Pacifiers, which are recommended in this policy statement, are artificial substitutes for what the breast does naturally. Breastfed babies often nurse to sleep for naps and bedtime. The recommended pacifier usage could cause a reduction in milk supply due to reduced stimulation of the breasts and may affect breastfeeding duration.

LLLI recognizes that safe cosleeping facilitates breastfeeding. One important way cosleeping can help a mother’s milk supply is by encouraging regular and frequent feeding. Well-known research on safe cosleeping practices by Dr. James McKenna, Director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame was disregarded by the task force. Also, the obvious omission of input by the AAP’s Section on Breastfeeding may account for the fact that breastfeeding management issues were not taken into consideration. Dr. Nancy Wight, President of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, comments that this statement “represents a truly astounding triumph of ethnocentric assumptions over common sense and medical research.” Dr. Wight also states, “There are many physician members of the AAP who do not agree with these recommendations.”

Although the authors do state that breastfeeding is beneficial and should be promoted, their recommendations about pacifier use and cosleeping could have a negative impact on a mother’s efforts to breastfeed. The statement causes confusion for parents and falls seriously short of being a useful and comprehensive policy.

LLLI, a non-profit organization that helps mothers learn about breastfeeding, has an international Professional Advisory Board. The LLLI Center for Breastfeeding Information is one of the world’s largest libraries of information on breastfeeding, human lactation, and related topics. Monthly meetings are offered to pregnant women and nursing mothers and babies to learn about breastfeeding management. To find local groups call 800 LA LECHE or visit"

Monday, October 31, 2005

A Decade of The Lone Star Girl

The Lone Star Girl is ten years old today. Ten. As in, a decade. I really don't see how it is possible that the gorgeous, independent young woman now living in my house is the same person as my roly-poly little hedge-hog baby. It really does go too fast...Happy Birthday, Baby, Goblin Princess, Sweet, Sweet Girl.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Blue Streak, Part Two

Punk rock, Mamas! It turned out pretty good! It's not obvious on as much of the hair as I think she had in really only took well on the very front part where her hair is still pretty blonde - the color is much more subtle on the browner part - so it's a thin streak, but it is cool! It also really turned out more green than blue in most lights, a greeny bright turquoise...woo hoo! She likes it. Clearly, I do, too.

Now, I have to go frost a strawberry birthday cake.

Currently Reading...

Inconsolable: How I Threw My Mental Health Out with The Diapers by Marrit Ingman. It's really good. Marrit is a Texas mama who wrote a great article about her son's food sensitivities called The Reluctant Vegan for Issue 7 of Lone Star Ma, and it was great, but I had no idea how hilarious she was until I read an article she wrote about her ovaries talking to her in Fertile Ground. She is even funnier in this edgy memoir about post-partum depression and her son's serious allergies. Those topics don't sound funny to you, you say? Well, that's definitely true in a way, but a certain twisted sense of humor helps people survive at such times and I love Marrit's dark humor...the chapter called "Playgroup Drinking Game", for instance. In addition to being funny, the book also tackles the issues of PPD, and parenting in our messed up, mother-isolating world, with the intelligence they deserve. It is an important work. It is also bound to be a hit. I just hope that when she's famous, Marrit will still do pro-bono writing for the little zines that love her so. Congratulations on your great book, Marrit!!!!!

Blue Streak, Part One

Earlier this night, I made a paste out of blue Kool-Aid and applied it liberally to a chunk of the Lone Star Girl's hair, then wrapped it in plastic wrap and a towel and sent her to bed. It was a mess and it was no fun getting her to be still about it, but it was what she wanted...a blue streak in her hair. We'll see in the morning if it worked. My earlier stand that hair dye was inappropriate for a still-growing body fizzled when we found out that most people use harmless Kool-Aid for the sort of bright colors that the Lone Star Girl wanted. After learning that, I really didn't have a problem with it, except that I didn't want her to be suspended from school. The district's dress code says something about no unusual hair styles or colors that distract, and leaves it up to the principal to decide if something is distracting or not. The Lone Star Girl was of the opinion that she might never again have a principal as laid back about the dress code as the one she has now is, so she needed to get her blue streak on while still in elementary school. She asked the principal if it was okay, and the principal said not her whole head, but a streak should be fine, if I was okay with it. I verified that with the principal and here we are...on the road to blue raspberry hair.

Junior Skills Day

Today (again, yesterday), Lone Star Pa took the Lone Star Girl to Camp Green Hill for Junior Skills Day. Most of the girls in the troop went, as well as the Troop Leader and Lone Star Pa. I was sad to miss it, but thought the Lone Star Baby wasn't ready for all day in the sun at camp with scheduled activities yet. The Lone Star Girl told me about how they earned their eco-action badge, which included planting a tree, making stuff out of recycled materials, learning about water conservation and doing a play about Butterfly, the tree-sitter. Wow. I just love those Girl Scouts. I still remember how a couple of years ago or so, when I was still troop Leader, the Executive Director sent all of us Leaders a memo about how the fact that some folks were boycotting cookie sales because a troop of older girls listened to a presentation by Planned Parenthood educators, with written parental consent, did not mean that the Girl Scouts were going to back down and start restricting the programming that troops could decide to provide. The Girl Scouts rock.

Cup Girl

The Lone Star Baby learned to drink from a straw when we were out and about today (technically, yesterday) and I neglected to bring a sippy cup. This sippy cup packin' thing just doesn't come easily to me, I'm afraid. I never packed sippy cups when the Lone Star Girl and I were out and about in her toddler days. She got all of her liquid refreshment from the boob as was proper when we were together. This kid, though...she likes her cups. She wants to nurse, sure, but then she wants a cup, too. When she wants to nurse, she wants to nurse and when she wants a cup, she wants a cup...and woe to them who try to pull a switcheroo. (Woe, woe to them.) This cup thing bugs me somewhat. What with the necessity of cups at child-care and all, I think she needs to catch up on the nursing when she's with me and would prefer that she take all her libation thus so as to keep up her supply and her healthy goodness and all. She has other plans, though and woe, woe to them that thwart her plans. I think the cups are here to stay...sigh.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Currently Reading

My Girl: Adventures With A Teen In Training by Karen Stabiner
Adventures In Gentle Discipline by Hilary Flower

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Don't Write Bigotry Into The Texas Constitution!

Early voting has started and there are nine amendments to the Texas Constitution on the November 8th ballot, so be sure to educate yourself on them and vote! Personally, my general litmus test for voting on constitutional amendments is this:

Do they increase choices for citizens or not?

If they do, I generally vote for them, whether or not I think the choice they would be allowing is a good one. If they restrict citizen choices, however, I vote no. Don't get me wrong, though: I am no libertarian. I am more of a maternal-feminist-neo-populist type (read: I'm gonna breastfeed in your restaurant whether you like it or not but you had better not smoke in it around my kids). I vote for plenty of laws that restrict the choices of individual citizens for what I deem to be the good of the broader society, and I will continue to do so. I think laws and constitutional amendments require different decision-making processes, though. Laws are very fluid, they are about all kinds of things and they change all the time based upon our changing values as a society. The constitution is about our form of government (how we decide on our laws, etc.) and about our rights. I think that's different.

The only one of these proposed amendments that really gets my dander up is Proposition 2, which provides that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage. Now, for one thing, this baby is rather poorly written. It may, in fact, invalidate all our marriages, which I would not be in favor of, being rather attached to mine. If it did inadvertently do that, though, it would be just what its writers deserve for trying to enshrine state-sponsored bigotry into our very constitution. Shame on them! Who do they think they are?

They seem to think they are a church, and that they are dealing in sacraments which involve certain religious belief systems that must be adhered to in order to receive said sacrament. They are not churches, however, and marriage, as a state construct, is not a sacramental matter. It is a matter of the rights of citizens. As such, the state has no business discriminating against some citizens and giving them fewer rights than others. It is ludicrous and un-American to even consider it!

No one denies that certain faiths believe homosexuality is wrong or that those faiths have the right to decide who does and does not qualify to receive the sacrament of marriage in their faith. Religious freedom is one of our most precious freedoms, after all. That is not the role of the state, however. The state must treat all of its citizens with equality and fairness and to deny gay people the right to marry is to violate the principles of equality upon which our nation is based.

Personally, I am saddened and outraged by the continued bigotry and discrimination that gay people face in our society. The last thing I want is to see that bigotry enshrined in our constitution. It is bad enough that it is already a part of our current law. It already hurts enough families. Please vote no on Proposition 2.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

One Person Really Can Inspire Change

Rosa Parks died yesterday at the age of 92. May we all strive to live such useful lives...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Take Back Your Time

Today is Take Back Your Time Day, a day to honor the struggle in our country not to have every minute of our time eaten up by unscrupulous labor practices that wreck our family lives. I highly recommend Judith Stadtman Tucker's article, Why We Need Time To Care: The Gap in U.S. Family Policy, on The Mothers Movement Online. We mothers and others need to get agitating for a family-friendly country.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

2006 Mama Calendar

Mamas! Coleen, fabulous NOLA zinetress mama of The Deep South Mouth, needs your submissions for the 2006 Mama Calendar! If you are not familiar with this project, it is a glorious conglomeration of photos, recipes, quotes, comics, reading, activist and community info. for mamas! Coleen needs all of the above pretty soon to get it all together. She has been generously coordinating this project, originated in the Hip Mama community but quickly passed on to just her, for a few years now, and we are ever so grateful for her dedication! Lone Star Ma keeps one of these calendars up in the kitchen every year! Go to for information on how/what to submit! Hurry, please!


The Lone Star Baby has started to say please! Only sometimes, of course; other times she shrieks like a baby pterodactyl...but, hey! It's a start! I'm so proud.

She is also venturing into the world of personal pronouns...ME!

Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday, we went to the pumpkin patch to get our Halloween pumpkins. The pumpkin patch is at the church that runs the Lone Star Baby's child-care center, but we have been going to it since the Lone Star Girl was a toddler, years before we ever thought of the school there. At school and with me, the Lone Star Baby has already been to see the pumpkins a few times this year, but the Lone Star Girl had not gotten to go yet so we ventured out for a field trip. The Lone Star Girl liked going, but mainly to pick out her pumpkins...the charm of hanging out and exploring there is clearly starting to run thin for her. The Lone Star Baby loves the pumpkin patch, though. She likes the pumpkins very much and picked a tiny one out to take home, but she is definitely a gourd girl. She spent most of her time choosing gourds...bumpy, bumpy ones and smooth ones and one shaped like a star. She could have stayed all day. The Lone Star Girl picked out the prettiest gourds she could find for a friend in our Meeting and picked out some decorative Indian corn, after she had picked out two pumpkins for our porch. We also got baking-sized pumpkins for muffins and cookies, and tiny and teensy pumpkins just for fun. I took lots of pictures of the Lone Star Girl up in a tree and the Lone Star Baby with her pumpkin and gourds. The hay made me sneeze but it was a lot of fun.

Great Books with Fall or Halloween Themes for Kids

Child of Faerie, Child of Earth by Jane Yolen

Alice and Greta by Steven J. Simmons

The Autumn Equinox: Celebrating The Harvest by Ellen Jackson

Apple Picking Time by Michele Benoit

The Pumpkin Blanket by Deborah Turney Zagwyn

Pumpkin Fiesta by Caryn Slawson Yacowitz

Pumpkin Circle by George Levenson

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dreaming Of Grandma

I dreamt of my Grandma last night. Actually, it was this morning in the 8 minutes between when Lone Star Pa hit the snooze button and when it went off (I heard it is bad if you can fall into REM sleep immediately: oh, well). In my dream, we were in my Grandma's house (I miss that house), but, in the way of dreams, it was nothing like her actual house. My mother, my uncle, my aunt (my uncle's ex-wife), my Grandma and my Grandma's mother were there, and myself. My Grandma's mother actually died many years before I was born, I think maybe when my mother was just a young child and my Grandma died almost 11 years ago and my uncle and aunt divorced many years ago, but somehow, in the dream, it all made sense that we were there. My Grandma and her mother were sitting in two chairs that were the obvious heart of the room. My Grandma's mother was dying and everyone was talking about it and making plans for her funeral, which did not seem tacky in the dream somehow. Every so often, my Grandma and her mother would drop out of the conversation to say a Decade of the Rosary together. The rest of us would just keep talking. I was not actually talking much. I felt sort of left out of the conversation, treated as a child, vaguely disapproving of their plans. I was definitely an adult in the dream which was a little odd since, even though I was 23 when my Grandma died, I was just a young adolescent when her Alzheimer's got very bad and she never really knew me as an adult. I woke up. I don't know what it means, what my Grandma was trying to tell me, if anything...

It is odd to me that I do not dream more of my Grandma, or remember the dreams at any rate. The last dream I remember having of her before this one was over six years ago when we were house-hunting. In real life, I was getting frustrated, and the dream mirrored that, but brought a faerie tale ending when I realized that my family had not ever sold my Grandma's house, the house that was more home to me in early childhood than any other place, and that my family could move into it and stop house-hunting. Of course, they really did sell the house and it is very different now when I drive by it, aching with nostalgia and wondering if the fig tree is still in the backyard. It is really strange...I often dream of whatever thoughts I am processing during the day and my Grandma is a daily presence in my thoughts and emotions...a soft ache of missing her and a strength of having been cared for... one would think I would dream of her often. I think the dreams I have from her are special, though - message dreams, if I could just crack the code. I am always a bit wonderstruck at how we still seem to reach for each other...I never really knew her as a person, only in the egomaniacal way a child knows a parent, as a home, and she never knew me as an adult, only as a child to give a home to...but we keep reaching for each other...across death and memory. I do not think her importance in my life will ever diminish, in each step and thought.

Lunch Packing

I am as bad at lunch as I am at dinner, but I do try to make it decently balanced, if nothing else. Today's lunchbox menus were:

Lone Star Girl: 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 granny smith apple, 1 snack cake, 1 apple juice. (She also gets a snack at school that the parents take turns bringing.)

Lone Star Baby: 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 serving organic applesauce, 1 serving sweet potato with cinnamon, 1 sippy cup milk, 1 sippy cup drinkable baby yogurt (the drinks are for the whole day at daycare - she never finishes them - but the school also provides a morning and afternoon snack).

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Conversation between the Lone Star Girl and the Lone Star Baby a few days ago:

LSG: (holding up 1 finger) Baby, how many is this?
LSB: (exuberantly) One!
LSG: That's right, Baby! How many is this? (holds up 2 fingers)
LSB: (exuberantly) Five!
LSG: It's 2, Baby. Say 2.
LSB: (in a tone of patient pity) Five.
LSG: How many is this? (holds up 3 fingers)
LSB: Six.
LSG: It's 3, Honey. 3.
LSB: Seben. Five.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Activity Grrrl

The Lone Star Girl's Destination Imagination team is meeting at school today. She is involved in two new organized activities this year...Destination Imagination and Choir Chimes Ensemble. Adding those to Girl Scouts would make for more activities than I generally allow, but the new ones are almost entirely during the school day, so they do not really strain our over-strained schedule. This is the first year that our Girl Scouts are Juniors, rather than Brownies, so that is very exciting, too! They grow so fast. I remember when I was the Daisy Leader and had to help the Daisies with every little step of every little project. They are so independent now! They have a great Troop Leader for Juniors and I know they will have a great year.

The Lone Star Girl is not swimming or dancing this fall, and I admit to being less than pleased with the reduced amount of physical activity in her days. I keep suggesting different sports, like I need more commitments, but she has not been interested. I am letting her take a break since she seems to need one and it has been a really hectic time since her sister was born, but by summer, I will need to get her exercising regularly again. She is growing fast and needs to stay strong.

It is always a joy to see the Lone Star Girl's interests blossom. Every year, she is growing more and more into the woman she will someday be, so independent and amazing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


The superintendent of our local school district gave the Lone Star Girl's whole school a pizza party last night for scoring in the exemplary range on their TAKS tests last year (this seems a little unfair to the other schools as they are all GT kids at her school and ought to be scoring high on a test designed to measure minimum standards, but oh, well). He gave them a pizza party at an establishment that is owned by a place we Gen Xers may remember as just a normal pizza parlor from our youth but which now has mutated into an over-stimulating palace of iniquity full of games, loud noises, unruly crowds and flashing lights. It was my first time at this place, which arrived somewhat recently in our community, although Lone Star Pa has taken the Lone Star Girl there a couple of times. Verdict? Even worse than the one with the giant rat.

The girls had a good time. The Lone Star Girl enjoys such establishments the way most children do once they are old enough to stop crying at the purple monster at the rat one, and she ran around with her little friends last night, relishing the melee. I fear the Lone Star Baby will like such places even more than the average kid does, though - she has such a high threshold for stimulation. She adored the place.

It did have that dance contest thingie, which is sort of neat, but the rest was just torture, in my opinion. It might have been okay if I could have just lied down on the floor and shut my eyes, I guess. Lone Star Pa doesn't mind such places - dads don't seem to as much in my experience - but all the other mothers and I spent the night wincing. Lone Star Pa had arrived with the girls at around 5pm and I had joined them at 6pm. By 8:30pm, they were still not ready to leave and I was saying things like Mommy could just lose it any minute now.

When we finally did leave, I had to go get myself an expensive pumpkin spice latte just to settle down.

Monday, October 17, 2005

30-Minute Meals

There are so many recipes flying around these days for "30-minute meals". We busy, working parents are supposed to get all motivated because we cannot really say that we cannot spare a measly 30 minutes to cook a lovely, nutritious meal, can we? So our problems are solved, right?

I think not.

I, for one, cannot spare 30 consecutive minutes after work. What with the nursing baby and the spelling words and everyone's need to reconnect and all, you know. Thirty minutes - sure. One after the other? No way. So these 30-minute meals take about an hour and a half to prepare if it is a usual run-of-the-mill day with no out of the ordinary interruptions. I guess what I need are 10-minute meals in order to really be finished in thirty minutes. Maybe 5-minute meals to be on the safe side.

Well, you chef types? Let's hear it...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Currently Reading

The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter by Katherine Ellison
Guarding The Moon by Francesca Lia Block

Just Finished:
Best Foot Forward by Joan Bauer

Princess In Training by Meg Cabot
The Greenstone Grail by Amanda Hemingway

Native American Day

Yesterday was "Native American Day" at the Lone Star Girl's school, the culmination of a unit they have been studying on Native Americans in all their classes. They went to school dressed as members of their assigned tribes, performed plays in music complete with pictographs, drums and chanting, had a feast, presented the Native American shields they had made in art class and presented the slide shows they had made on their assigned tribes in computer class. It was fun and educational.

I was recruited to make a Native American stew from ingredients contributed by the children in the Lone Star Girl's class for the feast. I am not much of a cook, but I found a great recipe and it turned out well. In keeping with the theme of the day, I made "Three Sisters Stew" from Feeding The Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. Some Native American tribes referred to corn, beans and squash as the three sisters because of the complimentary way they helped each other grow together.

When the Lone Star Girl got up to explain her shield, she said she had painted a lot of triangle designs on it to represent what she saw as the three sides to every conflict. She said there was one person's side, that twisted the other person's point of view into a bad thing, the other person's side, which did the same thing about the first person's point of view, and the truth, which was usually somewhere in the middle. I am her mother, of course, but I thought that was pretty deep for a fourth grader. I just love that kid.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

We Have Walking!!!!

Yesterday, the Lone Star Baby turned sixteen months old. She also - finally - started walking around the house without holding on to anything or our fingers last night!!!! She had been taking a few solo steps per day for a little over a month, but this was her first serious and sustained attempt to truly dispense with crawling or walking while hand-holding. She walked and fell and got up and walked again all evening! What a relief! Yay!!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

"People Colors"

Lakeshore Learning Center sells packs of crayons that they call "people colors"... they are a great variety of the subtle, one-blending-into-the-next shades that people come in...diverse and beautiful. Quite wonderful. I think they sell craft papers in "people colors", too.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Mommy Days

Last night, I had a Good Mommy Period on some more endless errands. Just the Lone Star Baby and I were out and I remembered to listen and encourage her when she wanted to tell me about all the ovals in all the signs at the store and about the owl display hanging from the ceiling and the circles and kitties and stars we saw on various displays and the snack she wanted. When we were waiting in line at the check-out, I played about eleven games of pat-a-cake with her, complete with enthusiastic hand motions. I was good.

I was so good that people noticed, even. I could just hear the thoughts of a couple of people in line with me: Such a good mother. And the thoughts of others: I hate that cheeseball supermommy crap. I felt good to be, at that moment, deserving of the first thoughts, but I was well aware that I am often more in sympathy with the thinkers of the latter thoughts...just that morning, in fact, I had plopped the screaming baby into her father's care and slipped outside quickly, sanity, for the preservation of. It's an up and down thing.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Doesn't the natural disaster count seem a little excessive this year? What is the deal?

Again, my prayers go out to the victims and their loved ones. We live in scary times.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Nursing In Public Episode

Today we ventured out to Hobby Lobby to get some supplies for one of the Lone Star Girl's school projects. At some point during that odyssey, the Lone Star Baby began campaigning for her mama-milk. I tried to distract her so we could get to the bookstore where there were places to sit down comfortably, but she was wise to my tactics and got louder, so I finally pushed the cart to the end of the aisle, told the Lone Star Girl to watch it, and sat on the floor to nurse the Lone Star Baby. While we were nursing, a woman who appeared to be around my mother's age walked past and stopped, turned, and asked me: "Did you see Dr. Phil yesterday?"

"No," I replied, curious.

"It was about that," she said, gesturing with her chin toward our nursing tableau.

"Was he really horrible about it?" I asked in a sort of friendly way, uncertain whether I was being rebuked or not.

"Oh, no," she said. "He was really good about it. Some other people were really nasty about it, though. A shame, too, " she said, shaking her head about the anti-breastfeeders. I smiled at her as she walked on. Score one for Dr. Phil.

Mere seconds later as the Lone Star Baby was engaged in her customary manuever to try to get my shirt as far away from her face as she could manage, thus exposing me as much as possible, another grandmotherly woman approached us. She saw me on the floor, smiled and said: "Where ever it's necessary." I smiled at her as she walked by.

Take heart, Mamas!

EE-EE-OH-OH-AH-AH Says The Monkey Baby

The Lone Star Baby likes to pretend that she is a monkey. It is unbelievably cute.

The Wild Mother

Get ready to read the best book ever! The best book in any category, which of course is mamalit, because what else could it be, is...
The Wild Mother by Elizabeth Cunningham.

I do not think Ms. Cunningham wrote this to be mamalit at all; I am not even sure if she is a mother. The book is sort of a magical, mystical archetypal not-quite midrash....and the main character is really a daughter...but it still counts! Mamalit! Mamalit!

I got to thinking about it today because Alkelda the Gleeful on her wonderful storytelling blog, Saints and Spinners, has been posting some midrashim about Eve. The Wild Mother is a sort of telling of the Adam and Eve story...sort of. I really have a pretty impossible time describing it, is about true natures and fulfilling our places in life...but it is so much more. Read it! You will love it! Hurry!

The Shame of The Nation

I just finished reading The Shame of The Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling In America by Jonathan Kozol. Talk about depressing. I have been thinking about race in this country a lot lately. I've been thinking about the way that polls show that most white Americans do not think race had anything to do with the government response to Katrina, but most African-Americans think that it did. This can only really be because African-Americans know things about the way they are treated in this country that white Americans do not know. Terrifying things.

Like most white Americans, I am sure that the cocoon of privilege in which I live renders me clueless of the reality of these different Americas, but I am not as clueless as some. I grew up in an often multiethnic household due to my mother's tendency to temporarily acquire other people's children when they needed a place to stay, and I attended a well-integrated inner-city magnet high school in Dallas that did a very good job of the desegregation it was set up to do (I don't think they all did). I have noticed how clueless many of the people who I know and love..people who firmly believe in equality...are about its continued absence and it has troubled me. I am certain that I am similarly clueless and that what seems like a big difference in awareness to me is the subtlest of shades of difference to someone who is really aware. Someone who has to be. We do live in different countries, right here beside each other.

I still feel that I benefited greatly from living my adolescence in an environment of diversity and it troubles me that so few people are experencing that diversity today. Most, if not all, of the desegregation court orders that were still in place even in the seventies and eighties when I went to grade school and high school are not in place anymore, and the integration they so briefly brought that benefited so many people who went to school under their rule, is also mostly gone. Housing practices, "neighborhood schools", trade programs, curricula that divide the privileged from the people who are seen as much separates us now. It's wrong and we have to fix it. We have to do the hard and sometimes frightening work of bringing our worlds together again. We have to.

Where do we start? I think we all have to start in different places, but let's all start. I'm going to start with a little research and an article (or several) about desegregating Texas schools. You think where you can start. We have a lot of work to do.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Commander In Chief

This has been Career Week at the Lone Star Girl's school. Today, they dressed as their future careers and had a parade at the beginning of the day. I thought that the Lone Star Girl would want to dress as a scientist as she tends always to return to the idea of being a terraformer, but she didn't want to this time. She considered dressing as a Girl Scout camp counselor, which she says she doesn't want to do as a career, per say, but wants to do as a job when she's in college, but changed her mind. She put on an old suit of mine and went as...the President of the United States. Madame President and I have been watching that new TV show about the first woman president, Commander In Chief. The Lone Star Girl says she will not be Commander In Chief, though, because there will be no military when she is President after she achieves world peace. That's my girl.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Leach Study Musings

The morning news was abuzz today about a new study coming out of Britain, co-authored by parenting expert Penelope Leach, about what sort of care arrangement is best for children under the age of eighteen months. And the winner is...Mommy!

Was anyone really surprised by that?

Mommy was followed in order of best to worst by a private in-home nanny, a babysitter away from home, Grandma, and lastly, a childcare facility or day nursery. Sufficient data on father-care was not available. Day nurseries became good choices at about the age of three, when socializing with other children becomes a good objective rather than a laughable, fraught-with-danger sort of guilty rationalization that we moms with children in childcare facilities make for ourselves, since rationalizations take less time than revolution and we are frankly exhausted.

Was anyone really surprised by any of that?

What is surprising is the way the media slants the findings this way and that to make families feel guilty about their choices...or lack thereof. Leach and her co-authors were not, in my opinion, guilty of this...they obviously hope the study will be used to garner support for creating a society in which families have more choices and capacity to do what is best for their children...a worthy goal...but in the meantime, many of us are stuck with the current reality.

The current reality in Texas is this:

Most Mommies have to work to provide their children with shelter, food and health insurance and most workplaces, sadly, do not allow said Mommies to bring the babies along, although that system worked remarkably well for most of human history. I, personally, would give almost anything to stay home with my babies...except their health insurance, and that is what it would cost us for me to be home, so I work.

Most Mommies who cannot afford to stay home with their babies, also cannot afford nannies. Frankly, most of us can scarcely afford crappy childcare, but we do the best we can.

Many family day homes are not registered or regulated in any way and the babysitters expect you to pay them under the table, something you can get in considerable trouble for if caught, especially, say, if you work for a government agency. Family day homes in Texas may be registered, but even the registered ones are regulated very, very loosely and supervised very, very little. I almost put the Lone Star Girl in a registered day home for her childcare when she was a baby. It came highly recommended from the local association of registered day homes where it had won something and came with lots of good references. The lady seemed just wonderful and I really liked her. At the last minute, I asked a colleague who worked for Child Protective Services to run the lady's name through their system...and there it was due to a referral on an infant who was seriously injured in her care. The investigation into the injury had been unable to prove that it was due to abuse or neglect on the part of the caregiver, hence her still being licensed, but the investigator told my friend that she had always thought that the woman had done it. So the Lone Star Girl went to daycare instead. I have sought long and hard for people I knew and trusted who would take care of my babies in their homes. In my circle of friends, this usually means stay-at-home moms who I know and who might be able to use some extra luck. Full-time childcare is a big, daily responsibility and most of the folks I know who are financially able to stay home are also financially able to preserve more freedom in their schedules than it entails, so no luck. Most of the family day homes I do know of that come so well-recommended by colleagues and friends that I know I could trust them with my baby are unregistered and expect under-the-table pay. I have certainly seriously considered that, but, as a mom and a government worker, I felt a certain responsibility not to flaut a just law so that was not for us. My niece has been extremely fortunate. My sister and my brother-in-law were able to find her a family day home run by a loving woman and her daughter who love my niece like family and are an important, permanent part of their family and lives. That is certainly ideal. But they were mainly lucky...they did not know the babysitter to start with and it could have turned out differently. I say a little prayer of gratitude that my niece has that most days...I know what a rare jewel her babysitter is and what a support system she helps provide to the family, and they to her. No doubt her situation is megatons better than daycare, but it is not something I have been able to find for my kids. I know too much about what happens in many unregulated family day homes to go with one that I don't know well, and I don't know any well who are legal, so that is no an option for us at this point.

Many, many Mommies have Mommies who also work or who live far away from them or who just don't care to spend their days with baby, so Grandma care is not an option for us. It's often a great option for families who do have the luxury as long as Grandma is active and stimulating and not one of those who says "Breastmilk? If Coca-Cola was good enough for you, it's good enough for him, gosh darn it!"

So what are the rest of us left with?

Childcare facilities. The worst option. And, for this age group, it really is. Most of them really, truly suck, too, let me tell you. I cannot tell you how many of them I have walked into and left crying and unable to talk. They are some bad places sometimes...cartoons, crayons, walkers, and that's about it. Scary. Most cities have a handful of really good ones, for what they are, that cost twice as much as the others but still can barely pay their scantily educated teachers and their rents because childcare does not really work in the free market system. You get on the waiting list for these quality ones before you conceive your baby and check back often because they are your only hope. And then you hope that your kid won't be any trouble, because with waiting lists like those, they may not have any qualms about replacing her.

The Lone Star Baby is trouble. While the study makes it clear that all babies need their mamas, some really, really do and she is one of them. She does not belong in childcare. She cries hysterically everytime I leave, although she really loves her teacher, who is wonderful. Yesterday, one of her teachers used the word 'mama" in conversation with the other, and the Lone Star Baby heard it and threw herself on the floor and started screaming for me. She is stressed by her situation, even though she is in what anyone would call a very high quality, top-of-the-line childcare facility. She feels threatened when the other children, who are mostly bigger than she is because she is very petite, get in her space and take things from her. She bites them to protect herself. She is serious get-kicked-out-of-daycare material, but her childcare facility has been very enlightened about it so far, thank heavens. I know childcare is bad for her (I know), but it is really the only choice I have right matter what the media says about it. I have to keep her in the best arrangements I can find and love her to pieces on evenings and weekends to help her feel as secure as possible. It's all I've got. It's all she's got. It's all most of us Mommies and babies have got.

I hope Leach's study does help garner support for public policies that support the kind of long, paid parental leaves that parents in other industrialized countries receive, and support for well-regulated, well-supported family day homes (like the military has) and more quality, affordable childcare facilities as well. We all need more choices, better choices.

In the meantime, we just do the best we can.

October YA Recommendations

Stealing Henry by Carolyn MacCullough
The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman (I love Alice Hoffman's YA books!)
The works of Joan Bauer (Hope Was Here, Rules of The Road, Squashed...)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Month of Storms and Spots

September was a rough month around here. From the need to prepare for the hurricanes and help with their effects, to ill relatives, to a blechy rotatvirus I got a couple of weeks ago, to a very weird reaction that the Lone Star Baby is currently having to her MMR least we hope that is what it is...things have not been normal. Not that the pace of our normal life is ever exactly peaceful or anything. To top it all off, I turned 34 on Wednesday. Getting old, too. Great. My dad did have someone come clean my house for my birthday, though. That was really, really great. I have to go check on the Spotted One, now. Later, Friends.

Friday, September 23, 2005

We Are Safe from Rita

We were all packed up and boarded up and ready to go as soon as the City released me (and we still are, just in case), but it looks like we will be just fine. The storm is heading east of Galveston...I just hope everyone over there will be alright.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Another YA Recommendation

I can't believe that I left Once Upon A Marigold by Jean Ferris off of the list! It is just wonderful. Also, I collect books that have the words "marigold" or "mimosa" in their titles, if you know any.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Series Reading: The Evolution of a Mother-Daughter Tradition

I read to the Lone Star Girl at bed-time (as well as other times) starting from a young age and when she was three years old, she had a very long attention span for picture books and needed quite a few read at a sitting in order to be pacified. It therefore seemed the time to introduce books with chapters and I started by trying to read to her the original Winnie The Pooh books. I loved their whimsical poetry but she did not. She found it rather dull and was not at all interested. So. A brilliant little friend of hers had listened to the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary at an even younger age and since Ramona is only four in Beezus and Ramona, I thought it might be suitable for a precocious three-year-old. It was. The Lone Star Girl was very, very taken by Ramona and insisted that we continue to read the series. I thought she would have trouble understanding the other books and grow bored, but she did not. We finished the whole series before she turned four, even the new one, Ramona's World, which came out that year. Thus began our tradition of reading one series of books, which Santa would bring, each year.

The Christmas that the Lone Star Girl was a young four, she received the set of Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura is only four in Little House In The Big Woods, so I again thought that one would be okay. She, again, was hooked. Much to my surprise, she insisted that we read every one and enjoyed them all immensely, even the ones in which Laura was married and struggling with motherhood. Weird. I do not believe in exposing kids to any media violence before the age of seven, as their minds are so absorbent up to that point, with no real filters, so I did skip a few bits here and there. I also skipped bits that would cause Santa problems and such, but, for the most part, the books were very appropriate. I only am ever really interested in the relationships of the characters in books, so I was kept on my toes by the Lone Star Girl's detailed questions about the engineering of certain pioneering technologies. Whew!

The Christmas that she was five, the Lone Star Girl received the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. She inhaled the first four or five when Betsy, Tacy and Tib are children, but this time did lose interest at Betsy In Spite of Herself when they hit high school, so we put them away. The Christmas that the Lone Star Girl was six coincided with Kindergarten. The Lone Star Girl had found a soul-mate in the teaching assistant in the Kindergarten room who was also the school's science teacher and the early and aftercare teacher for the kindergarteners. This teacher read them beautiful literature after school and she also read them Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville, with which the child fell deeply in love. The Lone Star Girl therefore got the rest of Bruce Coville's Magic Shop books for her series that year, except for The Skull of Truth, which I put away because it was quite violent. She loved them.

The Christmas that the Lone Star Girl was seven, she was finally deemed old enough for The Chronicles of Narnia which we sped through happily. The Christmas that the Lone Star Girl was eight, she got Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet...and I was pregnant with the Lone Star Baby. Things changed quite a lot with us. I was very, very tired and did not read as long at night as we had in the past. I also started skipping nights...a lot of them. We actually stretched those four short and wonderful books out past the next Christmas by a month or so, although she still got her series for her ninth Christmas...the Harry Potter books.

I had known that the Lone Star Girl was a natural for Potter-mania, but still made her wait longer than all the other reader-children to read them. A sensitive child who has had nightmares from the movie of The Wizard of Oz, I knew the Lone Star Girl would have loved the first one so much the previous year that she would have had to read the second one...and been scared out of her wits. I made her wait until nine, but then we started reading them. Fast forward to late August a couple of weeks ago when I still hadn't finished reading her the first one due to baby duty...well, we needed a change. I finally told the Lone Star Girl to go ahead and finish the book, and then the rest of the series, herself. We are just not in a season when much bedtime reading by me is possible, but that will surely not always be the case, and we have had a good run regardless. Freed to read them independently, The Lone Star Girl finished the first book immediately, the second in less than four days and is almost done with the third now. She'll definitely finish them all by Christmas, of that I have no doubt.

I also have no doubt that I will get her another series for Christmas this year, although I haven't decided what it will be yet. Babies grow fast and change often, so I cannot say when mine will have grown enough past her current night-time needs to allow her sister and I more reading time again, but I know it will happen eventually. If it does not happen by Christmas, then I will set the Lone Star Girl loose to read "our" series on her own again after a bit, much sooner this time, and that will be fine, too. We change, we grow, we adapt. And still, we treasure the precious memories. I love our series reading tradition and will treasure it my heart, whether it is a thing past or present. It has been very good for us.

What series this Christmas for the Lone Star Girl? Suggestions are welcome.