Tuesday, January 31, 2006

In Honor Of Coretta Scott King

I was saddened to hear of Coretta Scott King's passing today. She was such an inspiration to so many to keep struggling for civil rights. Her name was also an inspiration to many children. My older daughter and I have enjoyed many of the books bearing the Coretta Scott King Book Award seal over the years. The award was named after Coretta Scott King by two librarians who met in 1969 and designed the award to honor African-American authors and illustrators of children's literature. The first award was given in 1970 and the award was recognized by the American Library Association in 1982. Many fine books have worn the seal in the years since it was established, bringing attention not only to the worthy authors and illustrators but to the important subjects covered in the books as well. For more information about the Coretta Scott King Book Award or to look up the books that have won it over the last three and a half decades, you can go to:

Monday, January 30, 2006

Back to School Girls

Today is the first day that both girls are back to school after their long, nasty back-and-forth virus. The Lone Star Baby actually went back to school on Friday but we kept the queasy-feeling Lone Star Girl home for one more day (she wasn't actually at home, though, as she went to Lone Star Pa's classroom with him - his school had some livestock show day off - while he played catch-up) . Today they are both back in the saddle, so let us sincerely hope that we are past this! Please wish them luck and health!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Fridays

State Grass: Sideoats Grama
State Tree: Pecan

(How do you pronounce "pecan", gentle readers? Doesn't our state grass have a groovy name?)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Four Things Meme

I've never done one of these on the blog, and don't plan to do them very often, but Alkelda the Gleeful tagged me, and I am so fond of her that I am giving this one a try:

Four Jobs I've Had
1. Babysitter: This was informal work, on a per-job basis mostly with only a few weeks of steady employment here and there. I was able to manage mostly on this as a teen, though, because, as the oldest of 6 kids, I was seriously in demand around the neighborhood.
2. Cashier: I was a cashier during the summer when I was 16 at Jack-In-The-Box and again during the summer between my junior & senior years in college at Everything's A Dollar. These were my only bonified McJobs as the babysitting served me well.
3. Legislative Aide: I did my graduate practicum working in a state representative's office in Austin and stayed on for the summer after I graduated as an official one. They offered to hire me long-term, but I wanted to move back home. It was the most wonderful, great, intoxicating job ever.
4. Child Protective Specialist (also known as case worker): I really only worked this job for two and a half months for real after I moved back to my hometown after graduate school, but I also did a semester's practicum at CPS in Dallas while finishing my Bachelor's Degree. Since I was in training, I got to do everything...investigating child abuse and neglect, helping with ongoing and substitute care cases, carting kids around places, supervising parental visits. It was a great, exciting job and I wish I could have done it longer but my next employer made me an offer that I could not refuse to run an exciting pilot program.
Four Movies I Can Watch Over & Over
1. The Empire Strikes Back
2. 1776
3. Fly Away Home
4. Homecoming

Four Places I've Lived
1. Corpus Christi, Texas
2. Dallas, Texas
3. Denton, Texas
4. Austin, Texas

Four Places I've Vacationed
1. St. Louis, Missouri
2. New York City, NY (actually, we were staying in CT)
3. Sarasota, Florida
4. New Orleans, LA
Four of My Favorite Dishes
1. Crispy-fried tofu in sesame sauce over rice
2. Acorn squash flautas
3. Kirby Queso
4. Dark green salads with grapes and pear and spicy dressing

Four (Non-Blogger) Sites I Visit Daily
1. Mamaphonic
2. Mamaphonic
3. Mamaphonic
4. Mamaphonic
Four Places I'd Like To Visit
1. The Shrine of Nuestra Senora de Leche y Buen Parto in St. Augustine, Florida
3. Hull House in Chicago
4. The Juliette Gordon Lowe Center (not sure it's called that)

Four People I Am Tagging To Do this Meme
1. Veloute
2. Claridad
3. Gojirama
4. Your Pre-Teen Writer

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Currently Reading...

Yes, I'm still reading, even with all of that. It is - no kidding - the only thing keeping me remotely sane. I am reading Glory Season by David Brin. It is part of my feminist sci-fi kick and it is really, really good so far.

Of E.R.s...

We are not having a great couple of weeks over here. Worst thing about them: the illness. Here is how it has gone:

On Wednesday evening, the Lone Star Baby escaped from me for a couple of steps when I was drying her off after her bath and slipped and fell, hitting her head. It did not really seem like a bad bonk...just the sort that are fairly common and, on the one hand, I was not worried about it. On the other hand, though, I had had a bad premonitory feeling all afternoon, so I was just jumpy about her well-being in general. I held her most of the rest of the evening and did not try to put her down in the bed until quite late. Around four hours after she had fallen, she woke up vomiting. I wiped her and I off and, even though the doctor on call did not seem too worried, took her to the E.R. because I was worried. We got to see the triage nurse right away and then had to wait for about two hours (pretty good) to see a doctor. This is the second E.R. trip I have made in my career as a parent but I have made several others as a sister and a social worker...I hate being there. Pacing and holding the Lone Star Baby in the waiting room, while she threw up at regular intervals, I felt deeply paranoid about the germs of the other kids there. I was afraid they would do my baby more harm than we would get good out of bringing her there and there did not seem to be any place to go that would be far enough away from them.

When we got into an exam room and saw the doctor, she said she thought it was probably a coincidence, that the baby looked fine and probably had a virus, not a head injury. She ordered a CT scan to be on the safe side, though. The CT scan was a little scary, with the technician wedging stuff all around the baby to keep her still, but it was over pretty fast. We then had to return to the exam room and await the results. The results were fine and the doctor said that while it was still possible that she could have a mild concussion, it was probably the vomiting-and-diarrhea virus that was going around. By that point, I was worried about dehydration because the baby had been throwing up every 15 minutes or so and still had a dry diaper. They said she was too young for that shot they always give (Finargan? I can say it but don't know how to spell it) to make them stop throwing up. They gave her a shot of something else that starts with a Z to help settle her stomach and told us we would need to wait about thirty minutes before we started trying some Pedialyte. The nurse said I could go back to the waiting area. Even though I felt pretty snotty saying it, I mentioned my fear of the germs and she very kindly directed me to the "family room" where we could wait alone instead. Even though I am sure that the "family room" is mainly a place where they send parents to wait for Child Protective Services, I was not fussy. It was an extreme relief to be there after the rest of the night. It had couches and little chairs and toys and books...it was comfortable and we could be alone. We rested and waited and I read a surprisingly good book called something like The Lining Things Up Book repeatedly to the Lone Star Baby. After we had waited awhile, the nurse brought a bottle of Pedialyte and a medicine syringe and instructed me to administer 5 mL every 3 minutes. I did so, with the Lone Star Baby fussing every second in between syringes until she could have more. When they saw that she had taken it and tolerated it okay, they sent us home, where we arrived a few minutes before Lone Star Pa's alarm went off to wake him up. I made him go get some Pedialyte and Pedialyte popsicles before he left and bathed the baby and myself and called work and her school to let them know that we would not be in. Then Lone Star Pa called his work to let them know that he would not be in until first period and took the Lone Star Girl to school while the Lone Star Baby and I went to sleep.

On Thursday, the Lone Star Baby only threw up twice but she started having tons of diarrhea, so I then felt sure, and relieved, that she had a virus and not a head injury. On Thursday night, the Lone Star Girl threw up. On Friday, the Lone Star Baby was much better but continued to have some diarrhea. The Lone Star Girl seemed totally fine so I let her go to her DI tournament on Saturday morning, thus exposing the whole team, because on Saturday night, she threw up a second time. She felt fine all day Sunday while the Lone Star Baby had a couple of more loose stools so I sent the Lone Star Girl to school on Monday while Lone Star Pa took a turn staying home from work with the Lone Star Baby...and the school called him to come and pick her up because she had thrown up again. So at this point, the Lone Star Baby was having about one loose stool per day and the Lone Star Girl was throwing up about once every other day. Lone Star Pa called the nurse at the girls' doctor's office to see if we should bring them in and she said no...that this bug was lasting mainly for seven days but sometimes as long as 14. Lovely. Lone Star Pa stayed home with them Tuesday. The Lone Star Girl felt just fine all day but threw up once last night. So. I am home with both of them today. Tonight will make a week that we have been dealing with this. Not fun. This illness has been the Lone Star Baby's first experience with vomiting and diarrhea and she does not like it. None of us do. I feel that there is a decent chance they will be able to go back to school tomorrow or Friday, and I am so, so grateful that the Lone Star Girl seems to have this bug in a very minor way and that the Lone Star Baby has gotten better everyday. Also that I am nursing because the charm of the Pedialyte wore off really fast and breastmilk has allowed me to keep the baby hydrated without more trips to the E.R. for I.V. fluids. What a week we have had, though! Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers!!!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Monday, January 16, 2006

Remembering MLK

I try to teach the Lone Star Girl about the importance of standing up for everyone's civil rights at every opportunity and generally take the occasion of this day of remembrance for Dr. King to read books like Sister Anne's Hands by Marybeth Lorbiecki that teach about racial equality or, now that she is old enough, to watch movies that teach about the history of the civil rights movement or about racial harmony. Ruby Bridges, The Long Walk Home and The Color of Friendship have been our favorites.

I only today realized that I had not told my daughter about the closest that I ever came to Dr. King, the amazing day that I met his son, Martin Luther King III. Dr. King's accomplishments, though they will live forever, occured before my time, but the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that he led still exists today. When I was in college and was protesting the first Iraq war, my university's peace coalition participated in several SCLC-organized peace demonstrations. One night, the SCLC brought Martin Luther King III to speak at our university. He spoke about living the peace that his father taught and being there was just amazing to my friends and I...we were star-struck. After the speech, we went out to dinner at The Kettle with him and his bodyguards and spent a blissful evening talking about the ideals we were working towards. I will always remember the feeling. I told my daughter about that night today. I want her to know that peace is an honorable thing to care about, something cared about by the most honorable among us, as well as her own little family.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Government Spying

I wonder if the National Security Agency would read my blog if I posted words like JIHAD and INFIDELS on it. Remember, agents, it is still National Delurking Week, so post some comments!!!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

School & Spanish & Sensibilities

These past few mornings, I am remembering how the Lone Star Baby actually cried when I dropped her off almost every morning for at least 13 of the 15 months that she attended her old school. Just because she had finally gotten into a school-morning routine she looked forward to at the end and I had gotten used to her not fussing doesn't mean it isn't going to take quite a while for that to happen at her new school. Mornings are hard, very hard. She wants to nurse and cling to me and she cries so piteously when I leave. I worry about her being unhappy. The teachers say she stops crying quickly, but I think it is hard to know whether that is from contentment or despair. It is a lot of adjustment for a tiny little person to make. I worry, also, that the adjustment is harder because no one there speaks to her in a language she understands much yet. It is hard not to think that would be very stressful. They say it is not at her age, though, that children her age just accept that different people say things differently and that since her relationship with her teacher has never been in any language other than Spanish, she just accepts that as the way her teacher talks. I want to believe that, and I do, really, but it is hard not to worry some. There are other things that make me think it is all going well, though...only after today will she have been there for a week, but she is already adding Spanish words to her vocabulary. She has always said frio and viento and agua, but now she says flor and zapatos and pez and la luna, as well. And even though she is clingy and exhausted with the adjustment of it all, she is eager to tell me about her days and yesterday, on the way to pick up her sister after picking her up, I could hear her in her carseat, singing: Amerr-ka! Amerr-ka! Shh...gace...eeee! (the Lone Star Girl has been practicing America The Beautiful in case she decides to try out for fifth grade choir next year), in the sweetest little way and it is hard to believe she would be singing away to herself like that if she were really unhappy. Arg, these adjustments! The Lone Star Baby is such a sensitive little one that I find myself always concerned about what well-meaning bumbling of mine could harm in her...she is one who needs a lot and I am trying so hard to be the parent who can find it all for her.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Lone Star Girl on Dimensions

The Lone Star Girl says that she and her math teacher are having a disagreement about dimensions. Her teacher says that a thread is one-dimensional. The Lone Star Girl says that a thread is three-dimensional; it is just very small. And really, isn't everything really three-dimensional, she posits? A square of paper, two-dimensional, according to her teacher, is not really flat, after all. Even the markings of a drawing on that paper are not really flat. What if you were a germ? They would sure seem three-dimensional then. And what if you were a giant? A really big one? A pencil might seem one-dimensional. But it would not be. And what is all this about what things look like anyway? How do we really know that things look like anything? Maybe we do not see anything but hallucinations. Maybe we are hallucinations of some child-creature we could never imagine....

That's my ten-year-old.

Tom DeLay

It is really, really mean to be happy over the misfortune of others, but I cannot help but be pleased about the fall of Tom Delay. If that was not bad enough, I am not even all that incensed about the scandal that led to his fall (I mean, come on - corruption in the GOP Party Leadership? Really?). The truth is that I have had a serious bias against Mr. DeLay for many years, one that makes it hard for me to hear anything he says. All I can think about whenever I hear his name is a television interview with him that I watched many, many years ago before he was in a major leadership position in his party. The interview took place in the early nineties when people were freaking way the hell out about the rise of juvenile crime (which has since fallen) and were predicting horrible futurific scenarios about the new juvenile super-predators (who ended up being fictitious). Mr. DeLay, a man from this state, no less, where we actually know how to reform juvenile capital offenders when we want to reform them and have a proven record at it, was on television advocating the death penalty for juveniles convicted of capital crimes. The interviewer was trying to pin him down on how young was too young for the death penalty. He would not be pinned down but I heard him say that he thought it would be appropriate in some circumstances to execute eleven-year-olds. That was pretty much the last thing I ever heard him say because it was all that I could hear anytime he opened his mouth from that day forward. Eleven-year-olds....

19 Months

The Lone Star Baby is nineteen months old today! We sang happy birthday to her under the covers this morning...I am silly over her. She still is my little baby. She has become much more of a Daddy's girl than ever before in the past month, which melts her Daddy's heart, I think. In conjunction with her fondness for Daddy, she has developed a liking for the Beatles, which is good, because not liking them would be hard if you wanted to be around him a lot. She is also currently into helicopters and is inching into her Madeline phase, a phase which was long and involved with her sister, but which started later.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

January's YA Pick

I recently enjoyed reading the YA novel Ithaka by Adele Geras. The story is about the time that Penelope spent waiting for Odysseus' return from the Trojan War, but it is not really from Penelope's point of view, for the most part, as I had thought. Some of the book is from Penelope's point of view and her poetic weaving sequences are mesmerizing, but most of the story is from the point of view of a young girl, a handmaiden who is like a daughter to Penelope. The book is interesting and well-written, with many ominous glimpses of members of the Greek Pantheon and their machinations. I have always been very interested in Penelope's story and have toyed with the idea of writing a novel about her myself. When I first heard about this novel, I figured that someone had beaten me to it, but, now that I have read it, I may still write my Penelope book after all. Geras' Penelope is a loyal, loving wife. My Penelope would be...very different, I think. More resentful.

Full Day

Yesterday was the Lone Star Baby's first full day, from morning care to after care, at her new school. She is still not loving getting dropped off but is otherwise enjoying herself. When I picked her up yesterday evening, she pointed to the flowers on her pants and told me "flor". Yesterday was also the Lone Star Girl's first day back to school after the winter break...back to early mornings and homework! She did not want to go back...I wish we could all stay together, too. After I picked them up yesterday evening, we went to the library for the first of their weekly pajama storytimes in the evening (and for the Lone Star Girl to do some homework). I changed the Lone Star Baby into her Spider-Man pajamas in the car. Storytime was wonderful! It is its own special storytime, too, with different songs and rhymes than the morning storytimes and soothing bedtime books. The Lone Star Baby had a wonderful time.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Teachers Learning Sucky Framework for Understanding Poverty

Lone Star Pa has been spending the year earning his teaching certification and, while the program he is in is well-recognized for its quality and is, I am sure, very good on the whole, he and his fellow teachers-in-training are learning about poverty from this horrible book called A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne. I first realized how bad it was when he was telling me how it helped them understand the cultural differences of people in poverty, like how they place a high value on entertainment and might therefore have a big screen TV even when they don't have enough money for school supplies. Oh-My-God. I kind of went off on such a skewed and ridiculous viewpoint right away, but Lone Star Pa didn't really like me calling what he was learning a load of crap, which I suppose is understandable. I have since paged through the book some more, though, and it is a load of crap. It basically teaches that poor people have different values than the-rest-of-us and that you can understand them if you understand these differing value systems. While it coats this message in the language of multicultural understanding, what it basically gets across is that poor people are different from the-rest-of-us; they make different choices, choices that make them poor and that explain these weird things about them. Such crap! Nowhere does it explain the societal causes of poverty, or even hint that it could strike people with values-like-yours. It explains a whole lot about the cruel and condescending attitudes that my agency often encounters in teachers dealing with students who are too poor to afford school supplies, school uniforms, proper sanitation, etc. It is just a lovely attitude to instill in the people with whom poor children will be spending most of their days. Grf.

Currently Reading....

The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars by Miriam Peskowitz. This is an excellent book. It is the book that the much-hyped books The Mommy Myth and Perfect Madness might have been if they had cared less about judging mothers and the ways they choose to mother and more about changing the societal conditions that leave women stuck between the Scylla and Charybdis when it comes to mothering and work. For some reason, those two books got tons of attention and display space on the bookshelves while this one has made much less of a splash. This one, however, is the one that includes more serious scholarship, as well as more attempt to support all mothers, whatever their situations and choices. This is a feminist work that seriously discusses, rather than discussing in passing, what society needs to do to support mothers as equal members of society. It is a must-read for all of us living in this time of incomplete revolution.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Lone Star Facts on Friday

I am starting a new feature on this blog called Lone Star Facts on Fridays. On as close to every Friday as I can manage, I will be posting facts about the Lone Star State: fun facts, not the kind about how we rank worst to second-to-worst on every indicator of national well-being. Today's fact:

Texas State Bird: Mockingbird

Thursday, January 05, 2006

First Day

Well, today was the Lone Star Baby's first day at her new school. There were tears at drop-off but the school has one of those leave-fast-and-let-us-deal-with-it policies (grf), so I swallowed my own tears and left. I would not generally go along with such a thing, but our visits had been so positive that I knew she would perk right up. I called when I got home and they said she was doing fine. I took the Lone Star Girl to a DI practice, dealt with a couple of work problems, picked the Lone Star Girl up and went to get the Lone Star Baby just before 3pm. She was standing at the door like a big girl with her lunchbox and her backpack and the teaching assistant said she did well. The first thing she said to me was "mulk" so we sat down on a bench to nurse before going to the car. Every few seconds she popped off to say her teacher's name, or "puzzle", or "chalk" or "plants" or "poster" or "fish"... just like her Sissy telling me about her day. She seemed really happy. She was in a great mood during the afternoon and evening, more so than she usually is by that time of day, and is asleep now ... and it is only 9:34 pm! All in all, a great first day for my baby!!!!

Today, I just took her for the "school" part of the day, 8:30am until 3pm. Tomorrow, I am back at work and will take her for that part and the aftercare part until 5:30pm. Then, Monday, she will go for "Buenos Dias" care starting at 7:45am as well, so I can get to work almost on time.

Quaker Sci-Fi

I just last night finished reading Still Forms on Foxfield which I have out on ILL. Now, I think I have read all of Joan Slonczewski's published novels. I have really enjoyed them, and am sad to think that they were all written some time ago, so maybe she is done writing. I itch for another book in the Elysium cycle that has included some really good feminist sci-fi. This one was all-out Quaker sci-fi, though. The author is Quaker and there are lots of Friends' themes in all of her books but this one was really about Quakers and handled in a fully Quaker way. It was well-written and engaging, too. Neato.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Whirlwind Days

Today is the day before the Lone Star Baby starts her new school and she had another visit there this morning. Last night, I packed up all of her supplies - felt like I was packing the whole house! - marking her name on the tags and all that jazz and we took them in today. The Lone Star Baby has been talking about her new teacher and the class fish (Lolo! Fish! Glub!) since her other visit there but she was still a bit shy at first. This time the shyness did not last long, though. She was soon very busy and threw a fit when we had to leave. We then squeezed in one more storytime at the library before taking the Lone Star Girl to a DI practice at her coach's house. While the Lone Star Girl was at practice, the Lone Star Baby and I went home so she could have lunch and a much-needed nap. After her nap, we picked up her sister, ran some errands and came home. The Lone Star Baby has been tired and grumpy this evening so I am frazzled. Tomorrow is a big day - more busy-ness to come!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


I have taken a few days off of work, since Lone Star Pa went back on Monday and the Lone Star Baby starts her new school on Thursday and the Lone Star Girl doesn't go back to school until Monday...lots of schedules to manage here! Since I'm off, I took the girls to the library this morning so the Lone Star Baby and I could attend storytime.

Storytime is one of those things. It is something that, in my life, has taken on more meaning than it really should have. My family loves books and reading and the libraries are our homes away from home. We can, in spite of our busy schedules, be found there at least once a week, often more. Storytime is definitely our sort of thing, something I would love my babies to get to do regularly. They have rarely gotten to go, though. Storytime is in the morning, weekday mornings. Usually, on those mornings, Lone Star Pa and I are at work and the Lone Star Baby is at daycare. Sometimes, as often as once a month even for several long stretches, the library has had pajama party storytime in the evenings as a bone to us working parents, but it is usually the first thing to go when the schedule is busy and staffing is short. Storytime has come to symbolize to me the things my kids don't get to have because I have to work. Silly, I know. But true.

I have made great efforts to make sure my kids are not entirely deprived of storytime. Way back when the Lone Star Girl was a baby and toddler and pre-schooler, I used to try to schedule what scarce vacation days I had left after the childhood illnesses and daycare parties so that I could take her to storytime once in awhile. When the Lone Star Baby was in the baby room at her old school, I used to take advantage of the semi-flexibility of my schedule to go in late once or twice a month when I could work late to make up for it and take the Lone Star Baby to storytime. When she moved up to the toddler room, though, the policy was that you brought them in on time or didn't bring them, so that had to end. When the Lone Star Baby was home with Lone Star Pa this past week and a half, I made it dangerously clear that she was to be taken to storytime every week! I even snuck away for an early lunch to meet them there last week. So, of course, I was very happy to be able to take her myself today.

The Lone Star Baby is funny about storytime. She really loves it and spent all of our pre-library getting-dressed-and-eating-breakfast-and-driving-over-there time squealing "Story!Story!Story!" Once we take our seats, though, she is quiet. She knows several of the regular songs but does not attempt to sing them and only tries the hand motions on a sneaky-don't-watch-me-do-this scale. She listens to the stories and claps politely after all the songs, but is shy, I guess, since she doesn't get to go often. She then gibbers excitedly about it the whole rest of the day, though.

The wonderful librarian at our branch who had been the children's librarian there since the Lone Star Girl was a baby has recently been promoted to branch manager. Her replacement at storytime is a retired school librarian who, until last year, was the librarian at the Lone Star Girl's elementary school. She seems strong on good books, still working on the silliness factor. She is completely unfazed by wiggly, wandering toddlers, though, so I know she's going to do great. Today's selections were about the months of the year, with New Year's songs and the every-storytime songs, too. Best of all, she is starting a weekly, evening, pajama storytime. I think I love her.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Meeting For Eating

We had a very nice New Year's Day. We had a Meeting For Eating (read: potluck) at the home of the clerk of our Quaker Meeting (also known as the-other-Quaker-family-with-children). Most of our tiny Meeting was there, plus family; I think there were actually thirteen people! A record. We started with silence - although nothing is very silent with the Lone Star Baby around - then ate and talked. One couple in the Meeting had brought their visiting seven-year-old granddaughter so we had actually four children present, which was lovely. The child whose house it was, our wonderful thirteen-year-old First Day School student, took out some blocks and a magnet set in another room after eating and she and Lone Star Pa and the other children played back there for the most part while the rest of us talked about exciting stuff like alternatives to violence. It was so nice to feel the Meeting around us at the start of the New Year, all together. I love the gathered Meeting.

Inappropriate Word Jar

I started an Inappropriate Word Jar yesterday morning. I had noticed far too high an incidence of unwanted expletives from the Lone Star Girl when she drops something/breaks something/hurts herself recently, a phenomenon which is clearly all-my-fault. I think the jar may eventually help us with this. By early evening, there was $1.25 in the jar...all from me. Sigh.