Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Disturbing Episode

On Tuesday, I was at the bookstore with the Lone Star Baby, taking a potty break. She had used the potty and was waiting for me to finish in the tiny stall, chattering in her high little voice about everything we were doing as toddlers will. Someone slammed rather loudly and dramatically into the stall next to us, causing me to think sympathetically about how sometimes you really have to go. Then, however, the person began repeating everything the Lone Star Baby said in a nasty, mocking, gutteral and somewhat incoherent way, interspersed with cussing. This was kind of scary. I scooted the Lone Star Baby over to the opposite side of the stall and waited, hoping that the woman would leave while we were still in there, without incident. After a little more of this, she did, banging lots of doors on her way out. I waited a bit more and then eased out, making sure the coast was clear before I let the baby follow me. We washed up and left and I looked around the store a bit for the woman's purse strap, which I had been able to see, but did not spy it on anyone and finally told a clerk about it, although there was hardly anything that she could do to help. It really was scary. The Lone Star Girl uses that bathroom by herself all the time and it would hardly make sense to stop letting her go into public restrooms unattended, although that is certainly a mother's first impulse after such an event.

I guess the woman may have been drunk and what I really suspect is that she was probably just crazy. A third possibility that popped into my head, though, was that she was one of those scary childfree people and was angry at the sound of a child chattering away as mine was doing. Those childfree movement folks like to talk like they are just rational, fair-minded folk when the mainstream media is interviewing them, but anyone who has ever seen the things they say or the ghastly pictures they post when they are trolling around the Web knows better - they are wicked. This woman was probably just crazy, but to hear the angry mocking of my baby and know that there are people in the world who are truly hateful towards children was very unsettling.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Good-Bye, President Ford - I remember you

President Ford was the first President in the stretch of my own memory. I only remember him in the context of his race with Carter, but I think it is significant, the passing of the first President one remembers.

I have a vague recollection of a planned televised debate between President Ford and Governor Carter that was possibly cancelled or some such difficulty due to President Ford having laryngitis at the time. I remember thinking that was rather unfair to him. I was at my Grandma's house having those thoughts and I think she liked President Ford.

I was raised to be a Democrat, though. I remember my mom and my madrina dancing around, chanting "Carter, Carter, he's our man! We kicked ol' Satan in the can!" during this period. I lived at Gaslight Apartments during this time and I lived there between when I was 3 and barely 5, all pre-kindergarten, so it occurred sometime during my pre-school years. I date many of my early childhood memories according to where I lived at the time.

Hitting the Potty-Training Hard

The Lone Star Baby turned two and a half this month. Since she started attending her school at the age of eighteen months, she has been required, by the school, to wear cotton underpants while there. They have a happy attitude about cleaning it all up and learning to use the potty. Although I do know that there is certainly a true window for potty learning, as they claim, between 18 months and 24 months, I still find it all a bit nutty. The window in question requires a full-on, dedicated effort on the part of adults to observe a child's elimination habits and get them to the potty on time so often that the child becomes habituated to it and can eventually do it on their own. I am more of a fan of the sort of developmental windows during which a child takes charge of mastering the next step with less need for adult pushing. Somewhat unfortunately, that window for potty learning happens rather after the age of 3, creating a rather interesting cultural scenario involving which way to go.

We, feeling not so friendly about laundry, have kept the Lone Star Baby mostly in pull-ups at home, except when she requested panties, as she sometimes did. The laundry load from school started out quite high, but has diminished to rarely any recently, so I have come to the conclusion that it is time to do my part. The Lone Star Baby often balks at using the potty at home, so we were not really enthusiastic about it, but we utterly sucked at potty-training her sister, so I feel duty-bound to get on the ball. Another thing that is hard about doing it is that the Lone Star Baby spends a great deal of after-school time out and about with her dad and her sister and it is much harder for Daddy to do the potty -every-half-hour thing in public. Still, it is time.

We are now keeping her in panties except at night and making her go regularly whether she wants to or not. Her resistance is still there but is waning and she is still having way more accidents than she does at school, but she is doing pretty well...just one or two a day and they are minor ones. I wish I didn't feel pressured to push it before it worked itself out, so she wouldn't either, but such is life. Some of these battles seem more worth holding out on than others and I'll choose natural weaning over natural potty training any day.

Merry Christmas!

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas! Ours was very nice. The Lone Star Girl still felt a touch under the weather, but she had mostly a great day anyway. We opened presents in the morning, then had brunch together. Then my dad and stepmother came over for a bit and we then went to my Grandad's house for a little while. Around and between these, the girls played with their new stuff and watched the Lone Star Girl's new copy of High School Musical and the Lone Star Baby's new Diego DVD. Also, the Lone Star Baby is learning to play Checkers.

The Lone Star Baby is at the age where her greatest joy was in the opening of the presents - she opened hers and all the others, too, since she liked it so much. She also seemed to derive a deep sense of self worth in throwing away all the wrapping paper. Lone Star Pa said she took it as a solemn duty. One of the Lone Star Girl's presents was a bunch of duct tape, in all different colors. Her new craft is making things like purses out of duct tape.

I must say that my favorite thing about our family Christmas is still the sweetness and generosity of the Lone Star Girl. She labors over presents for each of us, makes us beautiful things, spends her own money even though we tell her not to...and she is mainly excited on Christmas morning to see that we like what she has given us. I just love her.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cookie Eve

My baking duties for the season are about done. The kids have not been so into the annual sugar cookie mania this year - they are being difficult - so I have done a lot of solo cookie time today. My tour of duty began when I made over eighty cookies on Tuesday night after the girls were asleep for our Fifth Grade Winter Party contribution. Then, on Friday, the girls did help me make cookies for the two neighbor families we are closest to and with whom we get together before Christmas every year. We always exchange presents for the kids and I bring cookies for the families, while another family makes fudge. That get-together was Friday afternoon, so we got some of the cookie making done early for it. We all had a great time.

Today, however, the kids insisted on lolling around on the couch, acting like their colds were making them more miserable than they were (had I said the words "Barnes and Noble", I feel quite certain that they would have perked right up), so I made the cookies for the other four neighbor families we always take cookies to all by myself. The Lone Star Girl and Lone Star Pa got lippy about having to go out in the wet to deliver the cookie containers to the appropriate doorsteps, but they did not really want to wake my ire, so it got done. I also picked late grapefruit and oranges from our trees and made some deliveries of those. Last night, we did pretty much all of our wrapping, so we are in pretty good shape now. I am pushing for an early dinner out and a tour of lights, then back home for our traditional Christmas Eve.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Thanksgiving Holidays - A Mega-Post

I am thankful for my wonderful daughters and my husband.

I am also thankful that I had this whole week off of work to be Mommy, although it is getting hard to know that our island of time together is coming to its end, in the sense that we must all go back to our respective schools on Monday. Just the weekend left and it has gone very, very fast! Still, I am thankful.

On Monday of the week, the girls collected acorns from our neighbor's yard (we have a standing invitation) in the Lone Star Baby's little bucket and made little twig-and-acorn wreaths to hang on tree and bush for the squirrels. We talked with the Lone Star Baby about how it will be getting cold soon (theoretically) and we need to take care of the animals. The next day they painted pine cones with peanut butter and rolled them in birdseed and hung them also from tree and bush for the birds. It was so sweet to watch them. It may not be truly useful to the little critters but I think it helps the Lone Star Baby develop a sense of stewardship and so is worthwhile.

On Thanksgiving, I cooked a bunch of food and we took it over to the house of another Quaker family who invited us and had a lovely meal, although the Lone Star Baby was in a sulky mood. I miss the Dallas family we did not go visit this year, but I love spending holidays with this family as well. We have lively discussions about things like police brutality and all sorts of pressing issues.

And now it is on to Christmas! Tonight we decorated our "tree" and all about the living room for the holiday season so our busy lives will not be able to delay us later. The Lone Star Baby was delighted to be hanging stuff on the tree like a Big Girl and the Lone Star Girl wore a Santa hat and Christmas apron and sang Star Trek Christmas carols of her own devising. I am excited about starting the yearly trek of our little Magi down the vast hallway to the Bethlehem bookshelf and reading our nightly story bit from the Advent calendar and doing Christmas crafts and such once December creeps in later next week. There are no objects, besides the children's photographs, I guess, more precious to me than the rather large myriad of Christmas ornaments hand-made by the Lone Star Girl over the years with a few additions starting to come in from her baby sister. I love to see our tree all hodge-podge full of them.

I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lone Star Ma Magazine seeks submissions for Issue #9

That's right, Mamas! My insanity has struck again! It's not like I really have the money OR the time, but...I must! I must! I am shooting for a deadline of New Year's Day, for an issue to come out in April-ish time. I'm trying to be realistic but we'll see!

If you are not familar with Lone Star Ma please go to (see sidebar link) to get the feel of it. Also, please read our submission guidelines there. Submissions should be e-mailed to, though. Be aware that I am pretty much through with how-to-ish is always hard for me to turn one from a talented real-life mama away, so I've included some over the years, but it really isn't what we are about. For features, I want personal essays on the mothering life and I especially want parenthood-is-political advocacy pieces. Things with a Texas emphasis are always best, but the universal is also fine. If the old submissions I accepted for this issue are still mine to use, this is what I still need:

1-3 feature articles

2-3 mama-poems

1 mama fiction story

Yellow Rose Reviews: a review of a great, out-of-the-mainstream baby/children's book, toy, etc.

Longhorn Lactation: a kick-ass breastfeeding advocacy piece

Vegetarian Vittles: family-friendly vegetarian recipes, resources and stories for veg. families.

I'd also like listings for Texas parenting groups, LLL and API meetings, playgroups, regularly-scheduled anti-war-toy demonstrations, etc.

I know you have some brilliant stuff for me, mamas! Let's put it out there! Thanks and lots of Love,
Lone Star Ma

Friday, November 17, 2006

We Are Really, Very Big

Forty-one of the counties in Texas are each larger than the state of Rhode Island.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

National Children's Book Week

I am a very bad book-loving mama-blogger to not have told you sooner but this is it. Quick! Go read some great children's books before the week is over! Maybe some Thanksgiving ones? I find it very hard to find good Thanksgiving books, but there are two that I really like: Molly's Pilgrim, sort of a classic, and 'Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving, with its subversive vegetarian themes. Enjoy!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Many Happy Returns

Election Day went pretty well in a lot of ways. Charter Amendment One failed so we Corpus folk still get open access to our beaches. We gained a democratic seat on our delegation in the Lege. We won some small stuff. Plenty good.

We did have some bad stuff that was significant - most of our local races went to Republicans which is very new for our part of the state...and, of course, we are still stuck with Governor Hair, thanks to Kinky and Strayhorn taking away Democratic votes from Bell - yuck. Double yuck, even.

The big news is on the national front, though, with both the House and Senate back in the hands of the Dems...yay! I am too excited that we are going to get our first ever woman Speaker of the House!! All in all, I think things went pretty well considering this rather dark era of history that we are inhabiting.

Lone Star Facts on Friday: We Really Are Big

Texas has more counties than any other state - it has 254 of them.
Lone Star Ma commentary: I plan to visit them ALL.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Candy Land

I don't remember playing Candy Land with the Lone Star Girl at the apartment where we lived before we moved to this house. We moved here just under three months before she turned four years old so we must not have played Candy Land with her until she was almost four or four. Once we started to play, however, it became a very frequent occurrence. The Lone Star Girl loved Candy Land. We played it and played it until Lone Star Pa and I felt like puking everytime it was mentioned. It was a great jumping off point to lots of other board games and card games, though, and playing games together as a family quickly became one of our chief joys. It is a joy that I must admit to really missing since the Lone Star Baby has joined us. We do not get in much family game time anymore.

That could change soon, though.

The Lone Star Baby is not even two and a half yet, but she has discovered Candy Land with a passion. She loves it and "Play wif me" has become a frequent refrain. Enough time has passed since the glut of Candy Land with her sister that we are happy to play, too, and I am excited at the prospect of some soon-in-the-future resumption of family game nights. Yay!


I found myself on the eighth grade hallway the other day, looking for some emergency contact numbers from the school nurse. One of the eighth grade teachers had set up a beautiful bulletin board of cinquains that the kids had written. A disturbing number of the poems were deeply affectionate paeans to various kinds of firearms. Nice.

More Baby Wonders

I know that a lot of people look right down their noses on these kinds of baby book posts and consider them the lowest common denominator in communication among women, but I quite disagree. Motherhood, in all its minutiae, is, in my opinion, a powerful common denominator, not a low one. So here are some amazing things the Lone Star Baby did recently:

When we were talking about her sister's upcoming birthday being on Halloween, she said:
"My birthday is to Daddy's birthday."
Her birthday is the day after her Daddy's birthday - in June. How she remembered the connection, I cannot imagine.

When we were at the grocery store yesterday, on the paper products aisle, the Lone Star Baby pointed at the Charmin (a word we don't use as we buy generic) and clearly said "Charmin". Hmmm...

Politics Makes Strange Bedtime Stories

Going back in time a bit, last Sunday Lone Star Pa and I took advantage of early voting and cast our ballots, with the Lone Star Baby in tow. She was quite interested. Her sister has been discussing the beach access issue with us a good bit and she has noticed.

The Lone Star Baby frequently approaches her sister with an imperious: "Charter Amendment One!", which seems to mean that she wants her sister to expound upon the issue. Her sister tells her that evil hotels want to close the Green Water ( the LSB's name for the beach) and that we have to vote against Charter Amendment One to stop them. Now, the Lone Star Baby likes her Green Water, to be sure, but she doesn't seem fully convinced about this beach access issue. She may just be on the side of the developers...I don't know.

On a somewhat related note, my dad and I actually agree on the beach access issue. Armageddon may be nigh

Halloween Festivities

Although the Lone Star Girl's birthday quite overshadows it, we still enjoy Halloween quite a lot at our house. This year, we spent much less time decorating, playing in the pumpkin patch, baking and doing crafts than I like, but things have been crazy and we just have to deal with the year we have. The Lone Star Baby did get to have some fun coloring on little mini-pumpkins and on little wooden pumpkins and making jack-o-lantern refrigerator magnets out of craft foam, so all was not lost:)

The Lone Star Baby had a multicultural parade at her school on Halloween and Lone Star Pa was able to take off of work and go. They had to dress up as real cultural icons. We sent the Lone Star Baby as Juliette Gordon Lowe, founder of the Girl Scouts, who shares her sister's birthday. For trick-or-treating, the Lone Star Baby wore her Spider-Man (she doesn't like my insistence that it is Spider-Girl) pants and hoodie again and carried her Spider-Man candy bucket. The Lone Star Girl made her own Star Fleet uniform, complete with aluminum foil-fashioned communicator and pips, and had me paint her with trill spots so she could go as Jadzia Dax. Yes; she's eleven. Our neighborhood kids go trick-or-treating together and it is always very nice. This was the first year that the Lone Star Baby went along and she quite enjoyed it. She was very intense about it, unlike her sister who just wants to go to a few houses and be done. You could tell that the Lone Star Baby would have happily kept trick-or-treating forever. It was a very nice night.

My Eleven-Year-Old Girl

Halloween is the Lone Star Girl's birthday and so she turned eleven on Tuesday. Eleven.

We woke her in the morning with a piece of orange yarn to follow to her presents and a tasty breakfast. Lone Star Pa was able to take that day off of work and had lunch with her at school. He also took her and the Lone Star Baby out for an early dinner at the cafe at the H-E-B Plus (her choice) before I got home to help prepare them for trick-or-treating. After trick-or-treating, my dad and my stepmom came over and we had cookie cake and ice cream. Her slumber party is this night, the following Saturday, and I am typing this as the big girls finally seem to be slumbering in the living room a few yards away. Eleven.

The Lone Star Girl was born at 7:40 in the morning on 10-31-95. I had gotten to the hospital on the 29th so that was a little bit later than I had expected, although she wasn't due until November 10th. I had a slow labor that began sluggishly after my water first broke and was probably further stalled by an epidural that I finally accepted 24 hours or so into the hospital waiting. I barely missed getting sectioned towards the end and would have gotten cut with most any doctor but the one I had, probably, given the long period of time after the water breaking and all. It was a fairly difficult and scary experience that convinced me that I did not want to spend so much time in the hospital the next time around, but there was no arguing with my results. The Lone Star Girl was an entirely delightful baby who was never a problem as long as she was being carried. I am grateful for her babyhood and her childhood. Raising her has been my most important purpose. It does not seem that the raising of her could be so close to completion as it is.

She has been the very center of my life. Eleven.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Aquarium Sleepover and Moral Ambiguity

Last weekend, the Lone Star Girl had a sleepover in the Texas State Aquarium with the Girl Scouts and she had a lot of fun. I'm glad she got to go. I have been straddling the moral fence by having her attend group functions and field trips there, which we don't pay for, even though we no longer visit the Aquarium on our own anymore.

Shortly after the Lone Star Girl was born, we got a family membership to the Aquarium and we spent absolutely huge chunks of her babyhood and pre-school years there. We were there almost every weekend to look at the fish and we loved it. We saw shark eggs squirming with fascinating embryos, gorgeous jellyfish and the ever-popular cownose rays, otters, tortugas, eels and nurse sharks. It was a great place to spend time with a child and was arranged to be highly educational as well as pleasant. Once the Lone Star Girl was pushing three, we started going to their sea-schoolers programs which were also great. Then, the place changed.

Exhibits began to get very commercial and to be arranged much more sensationally than educationally. They started talking about getting dolphins. You could stand inside the gates of the Aquarium and watch the wild dolphins dance in the bay at any time, but apparently that wasn't enough. They decided to build an area for "rehabilitated" and captive-bred dolphins. They did it. They started having shows like a certain place in San Antonio and Florida. I couldn't go back.

I want to, though. I want to take the Lone Star Baby, who has never been, and show her the parts that are still humane and educational, while avoiding the others. I don't, but it is very disappointing.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Friday: We're Big

The Dallas/Ft. Worth airport is larger than Manhattan Island in New York City.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Open Beaches

Although Texas has laws that are supposed to prevent our beaches from being made private and preserve them for public use, the City of Corpus Christi is trying to sneak around the spirit of those laws by amending the City's Charter to create a 7200 ft. "pedestrian" beach that would be closed to vehicular traffic, in the convenient locale of a "world-class resort" that is being planned for that stretch of beach by a private company in negotiations with the City. They argue that the beach would still be public - it would just be safer since no cars could come. In fact, though, it would be all but inaccessible to anyone not staying at the resort, as it would be mighty hard to get there on foot. They also argue that it is "just 7200 ft.", but, really, once they are allowed to do it for one stretch of beach in the name of economic development, it can obviously be done to other beaches when developers show an interest.

Fortunately, large numbers of Corpus Christi citizens who were concerned about keeping our beaches open to the public managed to get the issue onto the ballot as a Charter Amendment item instead of it just being done as a back-door deal. The issue will be decided in the November elections. If you are a citizen of Corpus Christi and you want our beaches to keep being for everyone, please vote AGAINST #1 which would create the "pedestrian" beach and FOR # 2 which would amend the charter to require public elections before the City can close the beach to cars. Thank you!

We're So Abnormal

I was having one of those giving up - not in such a bad way - times earlier today about the state of my house. Between Lone Star Pa's insistence on the prominent placement of television stuff, speakers and wires in what could have been a lovely little living room and the fact that the Lone Star Girl smears paint and clay from one end of the house to the other, including all over the clothes she got new for school this year, there just isn't any real hope, even if I did something about the stacks of books and papers that are mostly my fault. We just cannot apparently have a house that looks like any grown-ups live in it.

It worries me when the Montessori teachers go on about how visual clutter (which we have probably raised to a new level of pathology) hinders the development of concentration, etc., but I am tired of fighting it. Next week, I will probably be totally stressed again by my dirty house, but I have to take a little peace of mind where I can find it.

Too Verbal

When the Lone Star Baby was in the young one-year-old room at her old daycare, she was the only baby who really talked. The teacher used to sort of complain that she only wanted to do books, songs and the flashcards they (blech) used to teach words with pictures. She didn't really play with the toys very much. I knew what she meant, but figured we kind of had to follow the Lone Star Baby's lead - she's an unusual child.

Now, the Lone Star Baby has been at her Spanish-speaking Montessori school since last January, minus the summer. Her teacher tells me that it is amazing how much Spanish she actually already uses -they know that most of the children come to understand it quickly as they respond to it, but most don't actually use it themselves much at such a young age if it is not their first language. The Lone Star Baby uses it all the time. The teacher expressed her concern, though, that the Lone Star Baby is not that interested in the practical life activities and that she is trying to get her more interested. Too verbally oriented, again. I am sure it doesn't help that reading and going through papers and such are what the Lone Star Baby always sees her dad and I doing at home, but, really, she is who she is and she's two. There is only so much one can do.

I am trying to help by upping the volume of food prep. activities and crafts and such that we do at home, but she sort of already liked to do those things. I am trying to also increase housekeeping activities done together, but we don't really do that much housekeeping to be honest - in a crazy-scheduled life, something has to give and for us, it has been a clean house. I try, though. Her teacher says she sees improvement.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Friday

William B. Travis left his young son and pregnant wife because he didn't believe the daughter she was carrying was his.
Lone Star Ma commentary: Butthead.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I took the Lone Star Girl to get her ears pierced at the mall yesterday, something she has yearned to be allowed to do for years...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Space Sleepover

Last weekend, the Lone Star Girl travelled to Houston with her Girl Scout Troop and had a sleep-over in the Space Center at NASA. Along with a whole bunch of other Junior Girl Scout troops, they got to camp out there over-night and do all sorts of exciting space-related activities until late into the night and they were given the grand tour. She was way beyond excited about it and had a great time.

What a Find...

Not this past Monday, but the Monday before, Lone Star Pa and I both had to work but the girls' schools were both closed. My school had a staff development and conference day, so I could take the Lone Star Girl along and park her in the teachers' lounge with a book, but that wasn't something that would work with the Lone Star Baby. I had made arrangements with one of the newer La Leche League Leaders, who has a little boy about the LSB's age, to watch her at their apartment on those days as a babysitter.

There were, of course, some tears at drop off, but they dried up really fast and this wonderful woman sent home a note about the LSB's activities and dated pictures and everything at the end of the day. The Lone Star Baby was very enthusiastic about the experience and I was impressed. Very impressed.

I realized that night that I had left the LSB's blanket at this wonderful person's home. I packed a different blanket for school and figured I would catch up with that blanket later. Then, a few days later, I noticed that the original blanket was in the LSB's school bag and decided I must have left it at school and not at the babysitter's house. This past Tuesday night, I got to see, much to the LSB's excitement and delight, the great babysitter at a LLL meeting. She told me she had realized that she had the LSB's blanket and taken it to her school the next day, worried that the LSB would need it at naptime. Wow....

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays

Port Lavaca has the world's longest fishing pier. It was originally part of the causeway connecting the two sides of Lavaca Bay, but the center of it was destroyed by Hurricane Carla in 1961 and now it is just a really long fishing pier.

Ancient One

Today is my birthday. I am 35. Shut up. Thank you. Sorry. I'm ...grr.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bye-bye Booster

Last week, after years of hearing her griping and other people's incredulity that she was still using it, I finally let the Lone Star Girl ditch the booster seat in the car. In Texas, we only have a law that says kids need to use a carseat/booster until they are 4 (or 40 lbs.), so booster seat use is not nearly as common as it is in states with 6/60 or 8/80 laws. You almost never see school -aged children in boosters at all here, much less ten-year-olds. Even in the group of ultra-conscientious parents that I like to hang out with in the rare moments when I have time for friends, several of whom did extend booster seat use well into the elementary years, I was definitely the last hold-out . Of course, I used to work with someone who was on the child fatality review team locally and had to hear all the stories about the buckled-up eight-year-olds who were flung from their cars and died because seat belts don't work on children that size. According to experts, most kids are around eleven or twelve before they are big enough to pass the five-point test that means they are safe in a regular seat belt. The Lone Star Girl is a bit of an early bloomer and is about that size now, so she has finally passed the test (she is long-bodied rather than long-legged and passes it better than I do - I should probably use a booster!) - so it's bye-bye, booster. She's quite relieved, as you can imagine.

Monday, September 25, 2006

International Day of Peace

Thursday was the International Day of Peace and I went to a local church after work and walked a labyrinth they have for meditation which was very soothing after my very not-peaceful day at work. I am going to have to try to go back there often. The family met me there and then we all went together to an event at the local community college where representatives from a wide variety of faith traditions spoke out on behalf of peace and we sang songs and had a light vigil. It was very nice, very peaceful. Then the Lone Star Baby had a major freak-out fuss and my nerves were as jangled as if it had never happened. I am needing some serious work on peacefulness.

Working and Breastfeeding Meeting

On Tuesday night, I sort of led a La Leche League meeting. I am not a LLL Leader or anything but it was a special enrichment meeting and anyone can lead one of those. This one was about working and breastfeeding and they asked me to lead it since I have some experience in that area. I made little half-sheets with LLL's local phone number, the number of our local Medela pump sales/rental people, good books and online resources, took copies of books to show, loaded up the Lone Star Baby and headed out. We talked about pumping and sleeping and other issues related to working and breastfeeding. I hope I was helpful, but everyone seemed to have a good handle on things as far as I could tell and the real Leader was very helpful. It was kind of neat, though.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I Love Rock 'n' Roll

Today is Joan Jett's birthday. Rock on, St. Joan.

Lone Star Facts on Fridays

With 38,000 rose bushes representing 500 varieties of roses set in a 22-acre garden, the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is the world's largest rose garden.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


The Lone Star Baby is working on opposites, too. She wanders about murmuring:
The opposite of up is down. The opposite of in is out.

And so on.

She is also working hard on who is a boy and who is a girl, although it still requires a lot of thought on her part and I think she is just memorizing what we have told her in other conversations - I don't think she really recognizes a difference on her own yet.

Office Depot Moment

I was at Office Depot the other day, making a purchase for my students. After I paid, the clerk told me to have a good day and be sure to visit them online. I smiled and thanked her and took my bag from her hand. She then repeated, with a light but somehow frenzied emphasis, the part about remembering to visit them online and I found my gaze travelling from her frozen, faux-encouraging grin to the nearby manager. I lied a bit loudly that I would and thanked her with more obvious and perky gratitude and left feeling uncomfortable.

Sharks and Dolphins

The Lone Star Baby is very into drawing lately. She will proudly bring us a storm of multi-colored scribbles and proclaim them sharks and dolphins. She is so cute. She has added to the artistic menagerie in the last couple of days; now she says her portraits are sharks and dolphins and dinosaurs.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Honoring Ann Richards

On Thursday, the people of Texas lost Ann Richards, our second woman governor, who governed Texas in a more hopeful time, before our current president held the position and stamped out most traces of Ann's New Texas, which she had populated with the best and the brightest women and minorities in top positions and a taste of optimism about our collective future.

I met Ann Richards once in Denton, when I was campaigning for her as a Young Democrat in college. I worked as a legislative aide for the Texas House of Representatives when Governor Richards was in office and was impressed with her vision. One of the first presents my husband ever gave me, when we were just starting to see each other, was a t-shirt from Governor Richards' 60th birthday bash that said Ann at Sixty and fit me like a dress. Now, I cannot fit in it at all and the Lone Star Girl sleeps in it at night. I will always remember the optimism of those days and try to work toward their return. Governor Richards will be missed.

The following is one of my favorite Ann Richards quotes, which shows how much she understood the ridiculousness of things:

They blame the low income women for ruining the country because they are staying home with their children and not going out to work. They blame the middle income women for ruining the country because they go out to work and do not stay home to take care of their children.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Women Governors of Texas

Texas has had two women governors in its history (herstory!) thus far:
Miriam "Ma" Ferguson (1923)
Ann Richards (1990)

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Return of PJ Storytime

Today was the first day since before the beginning of summer that the library had PJ (evening) storytime again. I took the Lone Star Baby and it was nice to have a little Mommy-Baby time together with all the long hours I have been having to work. PJ Storytime was well attended and the Lone Star Baby was very into keeping up with all the hand motions in the songs. It was fun.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

September Herstory: Jane Addams

I've been so swamped with school that I neglected to mention that Wednesday the 6th was the birthday of Jane Addams. Jane Addams is my primary hero/role model (besides my mom). She was the mainstay of the settlement house movement in the United States in her time, the founder of the social work profession, a Quaker by birth, a feminist and a peace activist and a founder of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom as well as a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Hull House was a nexus for the start of many other social movements as well - public health, child labor laws, the juvenile justice system - it was an amazing time and Jane Addams and the network of activist women she formed and nurtured over the years were amazing women. I have fallen so far short of my desires to walk in her footsteps. Thinking of her always reminds me that I must do more.

A Word on my YA Picks

Since becoming a reader of Fuse #8's blog (she is an amazing children's librarian - check out her link on my links menu), I have come to realize that many of the books I review as YA Picks are not really YA books at all. Fuse #8 adamantly avoids YA, reviewing only books in the children's collection, and those are often the books I am reviewing as YA Picks. So. I am going to continue calling all the children's novels for kids that are approaching or in adolescence YA in order to distinguish them from stuff that younger kids who are good readers should read, rather than just calling the older teen stuff YA as would be proper. I am, alas, not a librarian, so I can do amateur things like that. I just wanted you to know that my system is not really correct. Thanks.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Old Cowhead

Cabeza de Vaca actually walked across Texas naked to find the rest of his expedition.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bye-Bye, Breastpump

The Medela Pump-In-Style that I used to obtain milk for the Lone Star Baby while I was at work during her first year actually belongs to my sister, passed down from a lady she used to nanny for - so it is one of the older ones. It served us very well in our pumping season, but although the Lone Star Baby still nurses, I haven't used the pump since she turned a year old a little over a year ago. Now my sister is pregnant with her second child, so when they came to visit this weekend, I cleaned up the pump and passed it back to her. I have to admit that even though I do not use it anymore, it makes me sort of uncomfortable not to have it around, just in case we needed it for some reason. It was just such a crucially important part of our lives that year. I sort of miss it.

Go, Katie!

Earlier this evening, Katie Couric made herstory by being the first woman ever to anchor a major big 3 network news show without a male co-anchor.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Drinking Inequality At The Breast

It is honestly extremely hard for most anyone to manage pumping milk for their babies in the Western work culture, but women in white collar jobs have it tons better than do other women who want to keep breastfeeding. At my old job, I had a private office and that helped a lot. A woman who worked as a clerk in the little court next to us pumped in the bathroom until I found out and offered her my office. There were women with private offices at the court - a judge and an attorney and a court supervisor - but none of them offered. It is far too often like that, and worse.

On Friday, the New York Times printed the following article on this important topic. I am glad that someone is paying attention.

On the Job, Nursing Mothers Find a 2-Class System

Friday, September 01, 2006

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Supply Box Haiku

Scented marker smells
of chocolate cookie from
childhood scratch 'n' sniff

August YA Pick

Today's YA pick is Miracle's Boys, a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, by Jacqueline Woodson. Milagro' s boys have been left orphaned, first by their dad and now by Milagro, too. They are on their own. Ty'ree gives up a hard-won scholarship to college raise his little brothers, Charlie comes back from Rahway Correctional someone who Lafayette doesn't know and Lafayette wonders how they will salvage enough family cohesiveness to make it through. This is a beautiful story about family and hard times.

Toddler Food Prep Haiku

Purple slashes on
Paper-towel cutting board
Slicing grapes lengthwise.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Women's Equality Day

Today is Women's Equality Day, the anniversary of the passage of the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. Eighty-six years now. Eighty-six years.

Yesterday, I wore a sash at school that said Votes For Women and told my class about Women's Equality Day and Texas' ratification of the nineteenth amendment and how short of a duration of time it truly has been in which women have had the franchise. I take every opportunity to point out to them that they are the future world and local leaders and that they can fix any problem they choose to fix in their lives, and that Texas History is where we start to learn how.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Milk of Negotiation

The Lone Star Baby has started saying things like:

First I have milk, then I go to school. Okay?

The details of these negotaiations vary but First I have milk is a pretty common element.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Lightning Thief Rules

It was shortly after the Christmas when she was eight, in the second grade, that the Lone Star Girl's obsession with Greek mythology, especially the twisted, fictionalized-for-modern-readers sort, began. She had been reading the Magic Shop books by Bruce Coville (except for The Skull of Truth which I found inappropriate) and had received the new one, Juliet Dove, Queen of Love for Christmas. By the end of December, it had her hooked on mythology.

That spring, she was chosen to do an independent study at her school and she chose to do it on the Trojan War. The weeks of research culminated in a presentation to her grade and to parents which included an impressive report, a poster and a puppet show, all delivered in a self-made toga. It was cool. Around that same time, the movie Troy came out, which I, of course, did not let her see. She found out about it, though, and was pretty ticked that I wouldn't let her go. Out of misplaced sympathy, I caved some and let her read Caroline Cooney's Goddess of Yesterday, a Trojan war novel that I knew perfectly well was way too mature for an eight-year-old. I still think it was a mistake to let her read it so young, but it instantly became her favorite book ever and has kept that lofty status over the years...until a few months ago.

The Lone Star Girl has read plenty of cool mythology stories in the intervening years, but although she greatly enjoyed Myth-O-Mania and others, none have held a candle to Goddess of Yesterday in her esteem until she read The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan this summer. It became her new favorite instantly and she has read it twice already (and looks forward to reading it again in school later this year when the class reads it during the fifth grade Greek mythology unit) and spent the summer hungering for a sequel. We found the new sequel last week and gave it to her yesterday. She finished it last night. She's sort of an obsession-girl.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

First Week of School - My Girls

The girls started school on Monday in their plaid dresses and they have had a great week.

I worried about having to drop the Lone Star Girl off as early as we generally do the rest of the school year and having to leave her at Latchkey after school on the very first day this year (because of my job), so I had gotten her a card with a bead bracelet in it to open when I left, but actually, her teacher was there, letting them in early when we got there, so all was well. She had a great day and a great week. She's in a great class with lots of kids she will really have fun with during the year. Fifth grade is semi-departmentalized at her school so this year her whole class travels as a group to different teachers for every major subject. All of the teachers seem brilliant and creative and wonderful. The school gave the fifth graders jobs to help acclimate new students. The Lone Star Girl gave a presentation on Destination Imagination to new parents and has been responsible for seeing to it that a class of first graders gets to Latchkey safely after school (there are no kindergarteners at her school). She is revelling in the responsibility. The Lone Star Girl has tended to be fairly negative about school since about the first grade as she is a bit too out-of-the-box for such a rigid system, but she has been beautifully positive this week. We are thrilled.

The Lone Star Baby is also having a great time at school. She is settling right in when I drop her off in the morning and is full of news when I come home at night. She told me I colored a monkey! on the first day, with the same excitement in her voice that I expect to someday hear when she says I'm getting married! or I'm having a baby! or I'm going to Mars! It was great. They were making monkey face masks.

A great week of school for my girls!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays

The first suspension bridge in the United States was the Waco Bridge. It was built in 1870 and is still in use today as a pedestrian crossing of the Brazos River.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Evil Formula Ads

At the same time as I have been extremely busy with the start of school, Google has, in a show of how not-sophisticated their content ad technology is, placed evil ABM ads on my site. I am filtering them as fast as I can, but they have to be filtered site by site and it can take as long as 48 hours, so each time a new one I had not thought of pops up, there is a lag time. I apologize for this and hope to soon have so many possible companies/marketers filtered that it ceases to happen. If any of you happen to know ABM company URLs and would like to post them in my comment section so I can add them to my filter, that would be greatly appreciated. In the meantime, my apologies again and down with formula marketing!!!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

De-Bumpering: A Poll

Before I started going up to the school to prepare my room a few weeks ago, I sadly felt the need to do some de-bumpering. I am what some people call a bumper-thumper. The bumper of my car is a primary means of self-expression for me. While my car will be in the teachers' lot where the children have no business being, I still felt it was a good idea to remove some of the possibly more controversial ones just the same. These are the ones I removed:

Abolish Nuclear Weapons
I Am A Social Worker (so as not to ruffle my fellow teachers' feathers)
Work for Peace and Social Justice
Consumption Will Not Fill The Void
Why Encourage Violence? Don't Buy War Toys (Sniff - my favorite!)

These are the ones I left on that I feel sure are perfectly fine for a social studies teacher to have:

All our Texas cave bumper stickers
Build Democracy: Vote
Don't Mess With Texas Women
That Margaret Mead quote one about a small group of dedicated people changing the world

These are the ones I left on that I thought might be pushing the envelope a little but that I just really didn't want to remove:

Peaceful Parenting For A Peaceful World
Human Milk for Human Babies

What do you think? Too out there?

Proposed to changes to WIC Food Package

Comments are being accepted for the new Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC): revisions in the WIC Food Package proposed Rule. To download the package and submit comments, go to:

Personally, I am not commenting because I cannot make up my mind how I feel about it. Most of the changes are in accordance with dietary recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Juice is eliminated for infants and reduced for women and children to be replaced by baby food fruits and vegetables for babies. Fresh fruits and vegetables are added for women and children and whole milk is eliminated for children over 2 (personally I still have the tiny two-year-old on whole milk and I tend to go to 3 regardless - brain fats). Fresh veggies are added for babies in the second half of the first year and beans, milk, canned fish and whole grain choices are added.

All in all, the revisions greatly improve the health value of the food in the package and I am all for that. The problem is that the changes were only allowed on the stipulation that the package not COST more (who wants to spend more money feeding babies, small children, pregnant and nursing mothers, after all?) than the old package and since fresh fruits and veggies are more expensive, the amount of food being given has decreased. That seems really bad to me. So I just don't know how to feel about it. I wish they would just committ to feeding vulnerable people healthy diets and damn the cost...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Squeaky Voices

Amarillo has the world's largest helium well.

Airplane Milk?

Word is that the latest frightening terrorist attempt means that now liquids cannot be carried onto planes by passengers. I heard that ABM and medicines were allowed if screened. I wonder if that includes breastmilk.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Jangly Daycare Mornings

While next week is back-to-school proper for my girls, this week was back-to-daycare after having the summer off with Lone Star Pa. They were not amused.

I am taking the Lone Star Girl to work with me today, after assessing whether or not this would be okay, but we had to make arrangements for Monday and Tuesday while I was figuring it out. At ten-going-on-eleven, I do not think she is ready to be left alone for more than a very short period, very infrequently. I just don't see the maturity yet. I tried to find something she would enjoy, but there wasn't anything. The YWCA is having a great leadership program for girls her age that I think she would love, but the times - 8:30 to 3:30 - just don't work for us. The lady in charge there is the former head of the Girl Scouts so I tried to get her to let the Lone Star Girl "volunteer" with her before and after, but she would not go for it. So we had to go to Plan B...A Special Place, or Hell, as the Lone Star Girl thinks of it. A Special Place is a daycare run by a lady I was in training with years ago at Child Protective Services. They are licensed to take kids up to age 13 and I have used them for the occasional off-day when we could not make other arrangements over the years that the LSG has been in school. Mostly, there are toddlers and pre-schoolers there, though, and even though the LSG is usually very into helping with little ones, she hates being at A Special Place, the boredom of which she waxes very dramatic about. They are nice people and keep her safe but she hates it so much she threatens all sort of mayhem when faced with her less-than-three-days-every-two-years-or-so stays there. It's been fun.

The Lone Star Baby's school has Play Days this week for those of us needing care and I think she is really having fun there, based upon her evening conversations. After a summer at home, though, she is having hysterics in the mornings when I drop her off.

Great mornings. Really great.


The last two days of last week were New Teacher Induction/Orientation and Monday, yesterday and today are staff development. Tomorrow and Friday are Teacher Work Days. I've been in and out of my classroom for the last few weeks, getting set up as much as possible. My classroom is really big and beautiful - I am impressed. I really already have it all decorated and set up, but I always find more that I want to do. I am working on lesson plans for the first six weeks. I had the first week of plans ready, but have found out that there is no kind of homeroom mini-period for taking-care-of-business stuff so I am having to revise everything to allow for all of the business and student paperwork needs of the first day of school. Busy, busy!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Thrifting, Shoes and The Last Plaid Dress

We've been doing lots of shopping lately, getting stuff ready for school - supplies for my class, the Lone Star Girl's supplies, clothes. It has been a whirlwind. We picked up tennis shoes for the Lone Star Girl at Payless and a couple of inexpensive items from a new girl's clothing store, and then hit the thrift store for two pairs of jeans and two shirts. That was about all she needed after we conducted our inventory of what she had that still fit her and what did not.

We still needed a plaid dress, though. It is our tradition that the Lone Star Girl starts every school year with a new plaid dress. Only Burlington's seems to have plaid dresses at all and they have quite a selection, which has always puzzled me. We went to Burlington's and got this year's dress this last week. This one is sort of bittersweet to us because we talked about it and the Lone Star Girl feels that this is an elementary school tradition that will not translate well to middle school. Since this is the Lone Star Girl's last year in elementary school, it looks like this may be The Last Plaid Dress.


Our next door neighbors had us all over last night, with our other best neighbor and her children, for burgers and dogs (we brought the tofu ones(:) with all the fixings and fun. It was so nice. The Lone Star Girl and her down-the-street friend played pinball and fooseball (sp?) and pool in the playroom as did Lone Star Pa and our neighbor man. We all chatted and they pulled out their eighth grader's old baby toys for the Lone Star Baby to play with. She was a little nervous about their dog - Golie is a nice puppy! She never, never bites! She only kisses! - but she had more fun than I can remember her having. We get to hang out so seldom, but I love our time with our neighbors so much. The community of it all is just so good.

Quaker Shoes

Eyes close in Meeting or stay open
My head down, I see in our rough circle
Walking sandals, black flip-flops
Thirteen-year-old bare feet beside slide-on sandals with sparkles
White orthopedic tennis shoes
I cannot see mine below my knees
Or the clerk's beside me
We are six this First Day.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Friday: Going Batty

More species of bats live in Texas than in any other part of the United States.

The Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History currently has a wonderful interactive children's exhibit called Bats In My World. And it is still bat season in Austin! It is wonderful to sit on a blanket and watch all the mama bats fly out from under the Congress Ave. bridge to do their night hunting. We could really use more down here to keep the mosquitos down!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Un Otro July Pick: Becoming Naomi Leon

Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan is the story of a girl named Naomi and her little brother who live a simple life in a trailer park with their grandmother and some loving neighbors. Life is not always easy, but it is good, until their long-absent mother shows up to stir up their emotions and threaten their future. The children's grandmother takes extreme steps to save Naomi, which result in the children finding more love and family to sustain them, but ultimately it is quiet Naomi who must to learn to find her voice and speak up for the life she needs.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Babytalk's Breast Cover

The current issue of Babytalk magazine has a cover that has people talking. It is a close-up of a baby's head nursing in which you can see breast and baby. They have gotten a lot of flack from women who apparently think that their husbands and sons will be deeply scarred by exposure to a breast. I wonder where these women keep their menfolk secluded so that they will not be damaged by the deluge of popular media and fashion featuring bra- and bikini-clad breasts that show more than this photo (which shows a good bit) even approaches showing, what with the baby's head covering the nipple and all. There's tons more of that to see out in public than there is public breastfeeding, or even public depictions of breastfeeding.

Somehow, I bet they don't even give that much thought.

For all of the misplaced ardor of people claiming that breasts are sexual (a social construct, people, and one that many cultures would consider nauseating) and therefore private, people only seem to get in a tizzy when breasts are being used for their God-given purpose of nursing a child. No one seems to care very much when they really are flaunted as sexual objects, but people seem mortally offended when they are being used to keep babies healthy. Does anyone else think this is insane?

Very few women are going to be able to keep up breastfeeding for the duration needed by children for maximum health and development if they feel they cannot do it in public. Women stop nursing and babies become more prone to all kinds of illness, not to mention that they lose IQ points, because of these Puritanical attitudes about breastfeeding in public. People who give breastfeeding mothers this kind of shit should be ashamed of themselves for the true harm they are doing to defenseless little babies and to our nation's future. They really should be.

Jesus was breastfed, people, and he was doubtless breastfed in front of shepherds and Magi and a whole caravan of folks all the way to Egypt and possibly all the way back to Nazareth. Was Mary wrong to do this? I don't think so. Get over it.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Unicorn Ship: A Sci-Fi Fantasy by the Lone Star Baby

The Lone Star Baby has been dragging around a glory of stuffed unicorns that her generous older sister accumulated over the years. She say their names are Bonitos and that they are all Mommies. She is currently in a spaceship (laundry basket) with them and is instructing them to all say arriba! so they can blast off. She says they are wearing their seat belts.

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Whooping Cranes

The Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of the only flock of whooping cranes in North America.

I have taken a boat tour to go see them and they were pretty cool.

Little Peaceniks

Last night, the Lone Star Girl and I were making signs on the floor for the Peace Vigil later that night. The Lone Star Baby came over and said I make sign, too! and started drawing on a piece of paper with a crayon. Guess we'll get her FBI file started even sooner than her sister's was!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Montessori Girl

In a music session at the conference, the Lone Star Baby made a shaker out of a big plastic juice bottle, colored straws, strings, a rubber band, two little plastic egg halves and pieces of chopsticks and a dowel. She managed to get the top off at home, though, and likes it much better as a material than as a shaker. She wants to sit for ages shaking the contents out onto the floor and then painstakingly, with deep concentration, putting each piece back into the bottle. Then she dumps it all out and starts over. She has to work really hard to get the strings in and the egg halves out. Her focus on this activity is is her work, just like the materials at school. Little Montessori girl.

The LLL-Texas Conference

The conference was over the weekend and it was so wonderful. I have been a member of La Leche League for eleven years but I had never gone to a state conference before. It is hard for us to afford motels and such and this was the first time it was ever here in Corpus Christi, thanks to two of our wonderful local Leaders who organized it and the other wonderful Leaders who helped pull it off. It was wonderful.

It was so wonderful to be around so many mothers and babies and fathers and children, all of whom were trying to change the world a little bit in their gentle way. I got to hear one of the Founding Mothers speak and that really brought home how much has changed in the world since LLL came into being, how LLL has changed the world in many, many ways in the last fifty years. All our lives, we hear about history in terms of war, as if that is the main or only significant force in people's lives; it is always good to get a taste of how herstory is full of important events that have nothing to do with violence. The Founding Mother talked about HIV research, physician education and a host of topics. She told us about how, not so very long ago, LLL fathers would handcuff themselves to hospital gurneys so they could be with their wives during childbirth, a thing that was strictly forbidden in most hospitals less than forty years ago.

Over two days, I went to sessions on active-alert children, Texas legislation, slow weight gain & failure to thrive, creative writing and publishing, latching-on and breastfeeding problems in the first forty-eight hours, babywearing, what small families can learn from big families, and formula marketing. I also heard author Hilary Flower speak on gentle discipline, not the annoying how-to sort of parenting advice you hear so much of, but an understanding presentation on the ways our personal dfficulties (being run down, anger, not accepting ourselves because we make mistakes, etc.) make it hard for us to parent the way we individually want to at times and the importance of being gentle with ourselves if we want to be gentle with our children. This was the first time I ever got to meet Hilary in person (she has written for Lone Star Ma) and see her gorgeous children and that was great fun.

While I went to most of these sessions, Lone Star Pa took the girls to sessions where they did arts and crafts and songs and had fun. We would meet up in between for nursing and visiting and sometimes I took the baby into a session with me if she needed a nap or her sister would wander in to sit on the floor and lean against my legs for awhile. There was also a playroom for the kids and a bookstore and a silent auction and tons of exhibitors with cool booths.

I was supposed to be doing evening registration on Satuday night, but after I had been there for awhile and no one came to register so late, the Leaders shut down the registration booth and encouraged me to catch the rest of the session on latch-on problems that they were going to attend. They said I would love the speaker. The lactation consultant and scholar who spoke about latch-on problems was so amazingly brilliant that I told Lone Star Pa that I thought we would need to marry her, but he reminded me that the government won't let us - sniff. She was really amazing.

On Sunday afternoon, the conference ended with a slide show of pictures from the many moments of the conference and a rousing performance, complete with props, of Down By The Bay by many of the little children in attendance. It was really wonderful. A big shout out to our Leaders for doing this and a big shout out to LLL for always being there for moms and kids: thanks!!!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Home Base

"Houston" was the first word ever spoken from the moon by humans, and was spoken on July 20, 1969.

Peace Vigil

Last night, the Lone Star Girl and I made our way out to a peace vigil that was taking place at a Methodist Church on the bayfront. There were a lot of people there considering that it was planned in two days and the organizers, from the local Tikkun community, said they will probably start having one each week. We were the only Quakers who made it this time but I expect that our Meeting will get involved. A lot more of the people who drove by seemed supportive and encouraging than was the case during the vigils and demonstrations we attended in the days leading up to the Iraq war. I don't think very many people want this awful mess anymore.

Sea-Child and the Wave-Daughters Adventure

I took my girls to the beach again yesterday but we went out to the Padre Island National Seashore this time, where you have to park at a parking lot and haul your stuff in instead of driving right up to the place where you are going to settle down by the water. It is very pristine and nice but a little too difficult to do very often if it is just us going, not to mention expensive. My brother and sister had gotten a seven-day pass to the park when they were in town and left it for us to use so we did. It was fun.

The Lone Star Baby was still quite fearless about the water and scared me a couple of times with her independence, yanking away from me to stand up by herself in the shallows and getting knocked down for a split-second by waves that happened along at just those moments. She really loves the water. She was a little cautious about the sand for awhile this time, remembering with concern that there are "little animals" in it, but she soon decided it was fun, too. The Lone Star Girl was a bit whiny about having to stick to the shallows because of her sister but she had a lot of fun, too. She liked the backdrop of the dunes and the beauty of Malaquite beach.

We have another little seaweed scientist baby. She was quite taken wth the sargassum and the little air bladders that keep it afloat. When the Lone Star Girl was in the second grade, she did a science project on sargassum and beach erosion that won second place (sargassum does help prevent beach erosion) so I guess seaweed-love runs in the family. I like it myself. The Lone Star Baby spent a busy stretch picking up clumps of sargassum that had washed up onto the sand and throwing them back into the waves. When the Lone Star Girl realized that this might extend the weed's lifespan, she started doing it, too. They had a good time with that for awhile and then we went on a seashell-observation walk.

Neither of them wanted to leave when it was time. It was a great day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The School Supply Shop

Yesterday was the day of the dreaded School Supply Shop. Those parents among you whose children are yet small enough that this remains a distant rite of comes! It comes!

I had seen the ads in the paper on Sunday indicating that spiral notebooks had made it down to ten cents at Target...that always means it is Time. You do not want to go before Time when only Wal-Mart and H-E-B have marked a tantalizing sprinkling of items down. Not everything is cheap yet, then, although that timeframe does have the advantage of avoiding the hordes. Once Target gets the notebooks down, it is Time, though; everything is as cheap as it is going to get. Very shortly after Time, the stores run out of the precious spiral notebooks and two-pocket folders with brads, so it is important to be swift. When the stores resupply these items, all school supplies cost about seven times as much as they cost when it is Time.

We did the bulk of the shop at Target this year (H-E-B and Wal-Mart are just as good when it is Time) and the hordes were still all in a mad frenzy. Going on Tuesday instead of on Sunday morning cost us, because they were already out of all two-pocket folders with brads except for purple ones and they need to be different colors for different subjects. We got one purple, knowing we would have to search other stores for the other six we needed. We went down the district's fifth grade supply list and got everything on it except the missing folders and then moved on to the things-we-knew-we-needed-from-personal-experience that were not on the list. The Lone Star Girl's school is seriously big on sharpies so we needed a couple of "fine" ones and a couple of "ultra-fine" ones. Target didn't have the "ultra-fine" ones. We needed book covers. The Lone Star Girl talked me into getting red pens at Target instead of embarking on an extensive quest of arcane places for the red pencils on the list which can never, ever be found at any of the main hunting grounds. I had already acquired for her one of those white erasers that also are never in evidence. We got her a new lunchbox to replace her old, torn one but I refused to budge on making her use her old backpack for another year. I also got a bunch of supplies for my classroom like the good teacher I hope to be.

It went okay. No one ran over us although it was close a few times. The Lone Star Baby was ensorceled by the crowd and behaved well until falling asleep in a heap in her carseat, worn out by the adventure. We dropped her off at home with Lone Star Pa and soldiered on to Office Depot where we acquired the needed folders and sharpies at the prices of last resort.

Then we were finished. Whew. Until next July...

July Herstory: The Seneca Falls Convention

On July 19th and 20th in 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention - the country's first women's rights convention - was held in Seneca Falls, New York.

Yay Congress

You don't hear a whole lot of that from me this past dozen years or so, but the House actually rejected the recent Constitutional amendment meant to ban gay marriage, a show of decency I was afraid to hope our Constitution is once more safe from institutionalized bigotry for at least a moment in time. Go, House!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

GMA's Breastfeeding In Public Story

Lone Star Pa informed me this morning that he watched a segment on GMA about public breastfeeding which stated that something like 57% of Americans polled stated that seeing a woman breastfeeding in public made them uncomfortable and that over 70% said that they thought women should stay at home to breastfeed. I hate to be a snob but I often wonder why so many Americans are such dumb-fucks...I just can't help it. Either they are stupid or it is a Taliban sort of thing and, as the mother of girls, I really prefer to think they are stupid for my own personal peace of mind, if those are my choices. I mean: we all know that breastfeeding is infinitely healthier for babies than any of the alternatives and that babies need to be breastfed for a minimum of a year if at all possible, preferably longer in this world of daycare, close living conditions and antibiotic-resistant bacteria (and just the natural unfolding of nature, really, as weaning usually occurs much later when it is child-led, although there is a lot of variation). There are a lot of things in this culture that make such a goal impossible for a lot of families, but that is what we are shooting for, in terms of public health.

So what? Mothers should just sit at home for a year or more? Seclude ourselves as unclean? I am sorry but I just can't condone that kind of misogynistic shit. The polled Americans either need to educate themselves or go do something else to themselves as far as I am concerned. Yeah - I'm a little worked up; it's about my daughters' freedom, after all.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Beach Visit!

One of my brothers and one of my sisters came down for a too-quick visit over the weekend. It was great to see them and...we went to the beach!!!

I know this is beyond pathetic, but we really haven't been to the real beach in the two years since the Lone Star Baby has been among us - just walking around the bayfront. This was due to a confluence of lazy reasons - there has been a lot of construction on and around the causeway to the island and the traffic flow was significantly altered for a time. Lone Star Pa wouldn't come with us and I was nervous about finding my way through the construction and dealing with both girls alone. No more excuses, though! The way is clear again and I am able to handle both girls. We are going to get in at least a few more times this summer and then next summer, when I am off - at least twice a week!!

It was great fun. I would have expected the Lone Star Baby to be a little scared of the great maw of the ocean, but she had no fear of the "green water" and was eager to get right in it. She "jumped the waves" and played in the water almost ceaselessly but also made time to dig in the sand with some new sand toys and watch the "little animals" burrow back down into the wet sand after getting seined. The Lone Star Girl also had a wonderful time in the water and on the sand and got to visit with her Auntie and Uncle. My brother and sister stayed longer but I only stayed a couple of hours with the girls because the Lone Star Baby was starting to loll about on my shoulder - quite happily, though - by then, and I knew she was plumb worn out.

When we got home, she was really grumpy-tired and had an urgent need to nurse but then she perked right up. We got cleaned up and then my brother and sister came over for dinner. After dinner, I got the Lone Star Baby to bed while the Lone Star Girl accompanied her Auntie and Uncle on an ice cream run and then we played a couple of games of Cranium.

It was a great day!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Day-camp with the Girl Scouts

The Lone Star Girl went to a little day-camp offered by the Girl Scouts at the YWCA on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It was all about fitness and nutrition, which she is rather rebelliously nonplussed about at present, but she still had lots of fun.

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Presidents from Texas

Four U.S. presidents have been born in Texas: Dwight D. Eisenhower, LBJ and the current dynasty.

(Look for another in 2032...)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

La Leche League Texas State Conference!

For the first time ever, La Leche League Texas is having its state conference in Corpus Christi (sparkling city by the sea, folks!) on the weekend of July 22-23. There will be lots of great conferences on a variety of topics of interest to parents and health professionals and people who work with families in any capacity. Hilary Flower, the author of Adventures in Gentle Discipline, will even be speaking! There is still plenty of room, so post a comment if you need me to hook you up to the registration folks. Thanks!

July Herstory: So Close We Could Taste It

On this day in 1984, Representative Geraldine Ferraro of New York was chosen to run for Vice President of the United States on the Democratic Party ticket with Walter Mondale.

Swim Season Winding Down

The Lone Star Girl swam in the regional swim meet on Saturday and did very well. Her swimming has progressed so much since last summer! Tonight was the end-of-the-summer-league swim party, although there are still a few more swim practices. It was fun but we did not stay much past dusk as the pool area quickly became some sort of horror movie involving swarms of mosquitos. The joy of having finally gotten rain...

Monday, July 10, 2006

July Herstory: Mary McLeod Bethune

Today is the birthday of African-American educator Mary McLeod Bethune, 1875-1955, who was a minority affairs advisor to FDR.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Robot Arm

We have automated trash collection in our neighborhood, where a big truck comes by and picks up the standard-issue trash receptacle from our curb with a robot arm, empties it into the truck, then sets it back down and drives off, twice a week. One of those days is Saturday, so we are usually home for it. The Lone Star Baby loves that robot arm! When she hears the truck coming outside, she starts squealing robot! robot! and rushes to the window to watch it. Sometimes we go outside and watch it. Once we followed it all around the neighborhood.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Friday

Texas is the only state to enter the Union by treaty rather than by territorial annexation.


Do It For The Zine, Mamas!

As many of you know, Lone Star Ma is published rather irregularly due to the fact that my day job(s) and family responsibilities leave me little business-hours time to pound the pavement for the advertisers that bring in the money for the printer. My schedule is not likely to let up much until next summer, and then only for summers, so I am trying to figure out something that will work. The way I see it, advertising is advertising, whether it is print or online, so please do not consider me a sell-out (don't hate, y'all) if I end up getting some of those little advertising strips on the blog and the magazine's sites in an attempt to pay for printing. I think they pay me a tiny amount when people click on them. If they are even brave enough to advertise in radical Texas mama-land. We'll see!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July YA Pick: Finding Miracles

I have the feeling that I am going to be reading many more books by Julia Alvarez. Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez is the story of a young woman who was adopted into an American family as a baby and who has tried to ignore what little is known about her heritage since she was a little girl. When a young man from the country of her birth begins attending her high school and his family is befriended by hers, all of the feelings and questions she has suppressed begin coming to the surface. She finds that she must follow her feelings and reclaim her past, the parts that are good and the parts that are frightening to her and to her family, in order to claim her own power for the future. A beautiful book. It also made me want to go buy lots of little milagros and do art projects with them. I don't know why.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Check it out, por favor!

New post at Daughter And A Movie.

They Should Have Invited Us

On this day in 1876, suffragists crashed the Centennial Celebration in Independence Hall. Their reason for crashing the party was to challenge the Vice President about the federal government's opposition to the right of women to vote. Bad federal government. Very bad.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Independence Day Movie

Lone Star Pa checked this Will Smith movie about space invaders out from the library and we watched it. I had never seen it before. I cannot believe that the president nuked Houston. I mean.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Almost-Grown Girl

The Lone Star Girl is about 4.5 inches shorter than I am and closing fast. When I peek in on her asleep at night, she is a long, lanky creature who fills her twin-sized bed from end to end. Her feet are as big as mine and she steals my shoes. Her hands are as big as mine. Where does the time go?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Future Piranha

The Lone Star Girl's swim team is called the Piranhas (slogan: eat my bubbles). The Lone Star Baby thinks she's ready to join up. When we took her to Family Swim Night on Thursday, she noticed the people diving and jumping off the diving board at the other end of the pool. I dive, she kept saying, no matter how many times we told her she was too little. Then she would throw herself onto her belly in the water (in our arms and no face in the water, of course) and kick her legs and paddle her arms and say I swimming! This continued until she was shivering so much we had to insist upon going home. We have finally gotten the rain our area needs this weekend, and in massive amounts, so the dips in sidewalk and street are all flooded today and we are sort of stranded at home. The Lone Star Baby looked outside at the flowing streams in the yard and said I go swimming! I go swimming! She really likes the water! I think she will be ready for swimming lessons next summer, even though she will just be turning three and I would normally wait until she was turning four, just so it would be easier to follow directions and actually get it learned. I know some people put two-year-olds in swim lessons, but she is really just a baby. I think she is too small for it to be good for her ears to be submersing her and she would not really understand about holding her breath and definitely would freak out at being handed off to a stranger - so those early lessons are not for us. Next year is soon enough and then only really if she is three-year-old sized - she is very small for her age now and often taken for a year younger than she is unless she is talking, and I do think it is important for their little ear passages to be big enough before they start getting submerged so that they don't get lots of infections. I can tell that she will have her day on the diving board eventually, though!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays: Texas Suffrage

Texas women won the right to vote in state primaries and political conventions in 1918 and Texas ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the franchise, in 1919 - the ninth state and first Southern state to ratify it. (If you guessed at a bit of an an ugly story behind the speed with which Texas ratified that wondrous amendment, you are right.)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Teaching Job

I don't like to count my poultry before it emerges from its shell but it does look like I have me a job.

I have been recommended for a position teaching social studies at a local middle school in the fall and I am rather excited about it. I had harbored a not-to-be fantasy about getting hired by the middle school that the Lone Star Girl will attend year-after-next, but another principal recommended me first and, though I mourn the fantasy, I am pleased as punch with the reality. I really liked interviewing with this principal a bunch and think I will like working for him. The school is, without a doubt, the school with the toughest, most inner-city reputation in town, so I feel I will still be working in a job where I can be truly useful to youth and that makes me feel better about this whole career change roller-coaster ride I am on...I'm excited; did I mention that?

I am jealous of my fellow students who have already been given keys to their classrooms and curricula to peruse...the principal knows I am chomping at the bit but I think it may still be a couple of weeks before I get to start preparing. Last night, I dreamt that I did get to go see my classroom. It was a wonderland - huge and filled with books and an overhead projector and most everything I would need (talk about fantasies, I bet!). It was filthy and cluttered and I felt a bit overwhelmed but so pleased and excited.

And GUESS what social studies course I will be teaching? Guess! Guess the perfection of it! Post your guesses!!!!!!! Guess!!!

Another June YA Pick

What I Believe by Norma Fox Mazer is the story of a girl named Vicki whose father becomes unemployed and subsequently depressed, causing her family an extreme dip in economic and emotional security. This difficult period challenges Vicki's values in a number of ways and causes her to question how she wants to live her emotional life with people who have hurt her and may do so again. It is a well-written and engaging story about choosing love over fear.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Blueberry Muffin Morning

The Lone Star Baby and I made blueberry muffins this morning. It was from a mix, but it was still fun. She separated out each paper muffin cup and set them in the muffin pan's cups, she poured the mix into a bowl and poured in the cup of milk and stirred it all up, then helped me spoon it into the muffin cups. We had a great time. Since there were no raw eggs, I let her lick the spoon. She was so sweet! After licking it for a minute, she held it out to me and said:

Mama turn. I share.

So we took turns licking it clean. Then we had blueberry muffins with our brunch. it was lovely.

The Return of the Lone Star Girl

Yay! We drove out to the camp on Friday evening (It's around an hour away) and picked up the Lone Star Girl and brought her home. She looks fabulous! It is always so impressive to me what a week in the woods with a bunch of girls can do...she really should spend a week each month out there! I'd miss her, though, and get taken to truancy court, so I guess that's not happening. She was bursting with vitality and enthusiasm, though, a wonderful change from all the sullen puberty she's been exhibiting lately - camp rocks so much! She had a great time and only had a fit of homesickness one evening/night even though they neglected to give her all of my carefully composed cheerful letters and e-mails until Thursday. She spent most of her time on boating (canoes), swimming and theatre. She was bursting with details about how much she loved boating, word-for-word accounts of all the skits that she participated in and watched, performances of the songs she learned (at least one of which I remembered from when I went to Girl Scout camp as a child) and stories about all her new friends and exciting experiences (like discovering and exploring an abandoned unit - a haunted one). Earlier during the day on the day on which we collected her, the Lone Star Girl had participated in a mile-swim. She didn't make the requirements for the patch, which included making it in 60 minutes to her 63 and a half minutes, but she was the only Junior who completed the mile - not even any of the Cadets made it - just her and a C-I-T and some Seniors. I am so incredibly proud of my girl! She says that her goal is to make it in an hour next year, then in under 50 minutes the next year, then within 45 minutes the following year - the requirement for having your name added to a plaque that they keep at camp of the most amazing mile-swimmers over the years. I am so proud of her and so glad she had such a great time!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Lone Star Facts On Fridays

The major rivers of Texas are: Rio Grande, Colorado, Red, Brazos, Trinity, Canadian, Neches, Sabine, San Jacinto, Pecos, Nueces (whoo hoo! Shout out for the Nueces River!), Guadalupe and San Antonio. Most of them empty into the Gulf of Mexico. All but two (Red and Canadian) empty either into the Gulf of Mexico or into another Texas river that empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Those two empty into out-of-state rivers that empty into....the Gulf of Mexico! You are correct!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

June's 2nd YA Pick

June gets several YA Picks as my penance for not getting to one in May.

What I Call Life by Jill Wolfson is the story of a child who must move into a foster home for a time while her mother deals with some mental health issues. Cal wants very much to believe that she doesn't belong in the home with the other girls, that they are not really her family and that her situation is different, but a fairly wise foster parent and the girls who have been in her shoes often enough, show her that this experience is part of her, just like the rest of her life. This book is a bit of a frame story and is engaging on many levels. I am biased toward decent books about foster children, but I highly recommend it.

Cloud Feet

My Lone Star Baby has the sweetest little cloud feet! I just have to kiss their soft little soles!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Currently Reading

Writing To Change The World by Mary Pipher

Excellent, excellent book.

Daughter And A Movie

Please check out my brand new blog, Daughter And A Movie.. I am hoping that, a few posts from now, I might be able to use it to get a family movie review job. Please wish me luck! Thanks!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Girl Scout Camp!

In addition to giving Lone Star Pa his well-earned and painstakingly-crafted-by-creative-daughters presents today and expressing my appreciation to my dads, we dropped the Lone Star Girl off for a week at the Girl Scout camp that is located about 45 miinutes from our town. I have taken the Lone Star Girl and her troop camping there before and she has been on a couple of Me-And-My-Guy weekend camp-outs there and a number of day trips there, but last summer, when she was nine, was the first time she stayed there for a week without us. I'm a pretty attached-at-the-hip mom, so I had a hard time believing that I had actually allowed her to do that, but she had a great, great time. This summer, my little cousin who is her age is her buddy and my little cousins who are 14 and 17 are C-I-T and counselor there. I know they will have a great time and we pick them up on Friday. I have already written her a couple of letters so she would have mail waiting for her when she arrived. I always get choked up when we drive up the camp road and see the sign that says "Caution: Future World and Local Leaders At Work and Play". Girl Scout camp, with all its late-night homesickness, bugs and sunburns, is such a...really, really wonderful experience. I will really miss my girl, but it is so good for them to get to be outdoors doing so much for themselves and being so bold...the units are called "Sacagawea" "Flying High", "Bar Nothing", "Destarte"'s just a wonderful place.