Monday, February 27, 2006

Throat Virus

Damn that coxsackie virus. The Lone Star Baby seems to get it every time. And what with that long rotovirus last month, we are not even recovered enough for another illness. I think starting a new school has a lot to do with it - new germs and all, but damn. I am staying home with the Lone Star Baby today because she has a throat virus. She woke me at about 4:30 am this morning with fever and that scary fever-breathing. She is pretty okay, but has a fever and a raw throat and a little congestion. We are having a low key day and resting although I think she feels well enough that she'd like to go outside and play. She will have to miss storytime tonight! Since she is still febrile this evening, going back to school tomorrow is not going to be an option. Lone Star Pa will have to stay home with her then.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Little Nooks

The Lone Star Baby has discovered the joy of little nooks. She likes to climb under the slide platform in the backyard and say house and climb under the table in the kitchen to peek up at us and play spaceship in a laundry basket with another stacked over her to make an enclosure. The Lone Star Girl made her sister a little nook in the living room with a folded nap mat and a blanket and she played in it for a good little bit. The Lone Star Baby also likes the gauzy, canopied reading corner that the Lone Star Girl set up in her (mostly forbidden due to tiny things scattered everywhere) room. Nooks!

Cookie Season

We have delivered all of our first and second orders and are delivering third orders this week because our cookie mom filled them out of the booth sale cookies - otherwise we'd still be delivering for awhile yet. Today was our first booth sale. We had a good location and will be doing another one at an even better location next weekend. The planning takes some work, but once the girls are actually there, booth sales aren't bad...Girl Scout cookies pretty much sell themselves, after all. Cookie season is busy, though. This evening, we went to a dinner for the D.I. coach and even there people were talking about cookie sales.

The Fullness of Time

One day short of three weeks after the Lone Star Baby was born, we made our first real foray into a crowded, public place, not counting the midwife's office where I had gone for a follow-up exam a week after the birth, or the pediatrician's office where we had gone to get the baby examined two weeks after her birth. I had meant to give the baby's immune system about a month before braving "unnecessary" crowds but I was going totally stir-crazy, so almost three weeks was time was necessary. The four of us went out to dinner and then went wandering about a bookstore. The Lone Star Baby slept in her sling most of the time with a few breaks for was a lovely time and just exactly what I had needed to keep sane.

At the bookstore, I bought a book, the existence of which I had been unaware and which I was very excited to find, called Marion Zimmer Bradley's Ancestors of Avalon. Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote a number of wonderful fantasy novels about Avalon and Atlantis before she died in 1999, The Mists of Avalon being my favorite and the most popular, I think. This new book was written by her friend, Diana Paxson, whose book The White Raven, about Tristan and Isolde, I had much enjoyed. It links the Atlantis stories to the Avalon stories and I was very excited to see it. I did not read it, though. For some reason, I put the book away and saved it.

Since I was probably not going to get to read more stories about Marion Zimmer Bradley's Atlantis/Avalon cycle, this book seemed like something to save for a special occasion. I did not know quite what I was waiting for, but I waited. After awhile, I thought I might wait and read it to celebrate the Lone Star Baby's first birthday, but that time came and went and the book still waited. Recently, I realized it was time. I have been pretty down in the dumps about some nasty politics that surprised me at work and having a rather hard time with the idea that people in my life were actually acting that way. Work is an area in which I have always excelIed and so to find rough patches in this part of life which I am so good at has hit me hard. I have not been this unhappy in a really long is hard to remember if I ever was. In the midst of all this, I realized it was time to read the book. I needed something special. So I started reading it in stolen bits at night and finished it this morning. In the midst of the book, when the characters' world was falling apart, was a deep reassurance from the Mother of All that nothing could separate them from Her. At around the same time, a post from a friend reminded me of the beautiful Catholic prayer to Mary, The Memorare. Together these prayers have given me strength to cling to the Light and be strong while doing what is right. The book was saved for a good reason, I guess. We just never know what these reasons are until they blossom before us.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tiny Fingers & Wild Baby

Today I took the Lone Star Baby to a baby sign class at the recreation center near my house. The Lone Star Baby used to use a few signs but she is a talker so she has not needed them enough to bother much. I signed us up for this class mostly for fun and partly to support the Parks and Recreation Department's foray into parent/baby sorts of activities. She had a great deal of fun and did all the signs pretty well. She was easily the oldest baby there so she felt quite the little queen, I think. While she is probably past the point where it will be a big issue, some literature passed out at the class mentioned a good point I had not thought of...that baby signs can support efforts to raise a bilingual child by offering the child the same sign when saying a word in either language. Cool. After an initial effort to learn the signs, the Lone Star Baby got pretty wild, though. She is getting very wild at story-time lately, too, which is troubling me because story-time is, breastmilk and her immediate family excluded, just about her favorite thing in life. The Tiny Fingers teacher seemed unbothered as has the librarian thus far, but I worry. I hope I can get her to settle down! She would be heartbroken to have to stop going.


Last night, I drove the Lone Star Girl and two of her troop-mates to and from the Junior Girl Scout meeting and most of the car time was spent with the girls making up quizzes for each other, complete with A, B, C & D answers and neat little stereotypical labels at the end depending upon which letter-answer they most frequently chose. While it is no New Moon, I generally consider that American Girl magazine of theirs (I know that is what inspired this burst of creative quizzing) to be pretty pro-social, if awfully cheesy, but my! It's pretty much all in good fun and cute and all, but it does remind a mom about the need to vigilantly keep pointing out the inaccuracies of stereotypes (fashion diva, tomboy, cool, geek, spender, saver, etc.) lest they start seeing their realities so simply.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Toddler Boundaries

At twenty months, we are well into the world of no and mine with the Lone Star Baby and have been for some time, now. We tried very hard not to say no a lot when she was first learning to speak so she would not say it so much but ah, well. We have more recently moved firmly into the land of self, generally the screeched response to any attempt on our part to modify toddler efforts likely to unintentionally result in undue harm or mess. Self!

There's another boundary that comes up a good bit, along the same line as self these days: body. Sometimes, when nursing, the Lone Star Baby will annoy me with her hands. Since she has been old enough to understand - if not always obey - I have at such times told her to keep her hands on her own body. Now, when I want to hold her hand because, say, we are walking into the street or something, she snatches her hands to hold them tightly against her tummy, gives me a fierce little look and says Body!

Well. I guess that's clear enough.

The TAKS Breakfast

All around Texas this morning, mothers of fourth graders who usually, like me, make their kids dig out their own yogurt cups and toast their own waffles on school mornings with no more assistance than the Did you eat protein? mantra, are putting eggs and waffles and pancakes and fruit on the table for their amazed fourth graders and telling them to eat up. It's the standardized test breakfast, a long-standing tradition for many families in this land that produced out test-happy president. Eat up, kids, and good luck!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Of Groceries, Pockets and the Patriarchy

Dear Youngish, Childless H-E-B Customer Service Associates :

I truly do appreciate the way you always ask me if I need help out when you hand me my receipt, whenever I have the monkeys with me and sometimes, worrisomely, when I do not. Thank you, but I don't really need help out. It isn't too hard to push the cart out to my car, load the trunk with groceries with one hand while keeping the other on the still baby-laden cart, then return the cart to the corral, remove said baby and go get us all buckled into the car. If you could help me unload the groceries at the house and put them in their respective places before anything defrosts while the kids are clamoring for attention - now, that would be helpful. I totally understand, however, that such a level of customer service as that would truly be asking to much - it is enough that you offer to help us at the store. More than enough ... really. There is, however, one thing that you could do at the store to make our shopping trip more pleasant: after I have taken my receipt and assured you that we will be fine, you could wait patiently while I get out my keys and zip up my purse. I do not have enough hands to do this while pushing the cart and tending to the kids so I need to do it at the check-out and I do not like the obvious impatience with which the task is met, the clarity with which you telegraph that I should hurry the hell up and get out of everybody's way. It takes us just a moment - please grant us the moment with generosity or at least with slightly less belabored tolerance if you can. I do try to make that moment shorter. I try to put my keys in my pocket in the car before we get out at the store in order to save having to fish for them at the check-out. The truth, however, is that women's professional clothing is seldom designed with real pockets, a fact which often thwarts my intentions of speed. I have always believed that the lack of pockets are a ploy of the patriarchy ... pockets are power. But there you are. Thanks again for all your help.

Lone Star Ma

Mom and Pop Culture at

Yay for Marrit Ingman! Marrit Ingman, who has written for Lone Star Ma and who was a great comfort to me during my whole trauma about a certain new glossy parenting magazine invading my turf, has a new column at called Mom and Pop Culture. This first installment is a very well-written defense on mother-writing which, as you know, is my current bandwagon. Marrit is the author of Inconsolable: How I Threw My Mental Health Out With The Diapers, one of the best books I have read in a long, long, long time. She's a frequent contributor to Fertile Ground, one of my favorite zines, as well. She is one of those talented writers who can tackle serious subjects while being funny as hell...but maybe that's just my macabre sense of humor. What are you waiting for? Go read her column!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined

Today, I am a reviewer for the Blog Book Tour of Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined, edited by Andrea J. Buchanan and Amy Hudock. This book is an anthology of some of the best mama-oriented poetry, fiction, nonfiction and creative nonfiction from the amazing online literary magazine, Literary Mama, established in November of 2003. Literary Mama takes mother-writing seriously, as few places do in this culture which belittles writing about the experiences of motherhood as if they were not worthy of literature. The book takes mother-writing seriously, too, and it contains some truly amazing writing by a wide variety of authors who all deserve to be recognized as the true artists that they are. From its thought-provoking Introduction, all the way to the very last story, this book kept me riveted. It is hard to imagine that in an anthology of over 50 pieces, all of them would be good, but I - picky as I am - could not find one thing in the book that was not both beautifully written and fascinating. The book is that good. It has the added bonus of making me feel like the mothering work that I do is also fascinating and worthy of such craft.

Although I loved Literary Mama in its entirety, my very favorite piece in it was a work of fiction by Cassie Premo Steele called Chocolate, about a mother who teaches her daughter a memorable lesson about sensuality. Literary Mama is available from Seal Press and I highly recommend it to everyone. Not just to mothers, either. We mothers read about the rest of Life and non-mothers can do so as well. Motherhood is one of Life's most basic aspects and we should all take it seriously. Literary Mama shows us that doing so is a delight.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Today is the eleventh anniversary of our marriage. It is hard to believe that we are that old!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Lone Star Baby & Spanish at Twenty Months

The Lone Star Baby is 20 months old today! I cannot believe how close to two that sounds! She does not seem close to two - she is teeny-tiny and wants a lot of holding still. Long gone are the days when I could list most of her vocabulary on each month-birthday: I could never dream of listing all the words she says now. I can probably list almost all of the Spanish words she now says, though (the ones she says at home, at least):

La Luna
Pez (pes?)

She's learning so much!

Friday, February 10, 2006


I have been needing a haircut very badly since, like, August, but haven't been able to find the time. This morning, I went and got it cut. It is very short for me, shorter than I have ever worn it. I did want it in a very short sort of bob but one forgets when my hair is long how curly it is when it is lighter, so it is shorter-seeming than anticipated. I think I like it. I know I will like it in a month and since it will probably be another year and a half before I find time to have it cut again, on the short side is good. It's really different, though!

Lone Star Facts on Fridays

State Nickname: Lone Star State

Now, when I was a Texas schoolchild, we were taught that Texas was the Lone Star State, the only state with a right to a star in its state flag, because it was the only state that had been a country before becoming a state. We felt smug about this. As I have grown older, though, I have become confused about this teaching...what about Hawaii? Hawaii was a country before it became a state, too. And yes, gentle readers, Hawaii was already a state by the time I was a schoolchild. So I don't get it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Compassion and Social Responsibility, Through Children's Literature

The following is a list of some of my favorite children's books that can be used to help awaken compassion and social responsibility in children:

Faith The Cow
by Susan Bame Hoover

A Chair for My Mother
by Vera B. Williams

Sister Anne’s Hands
by Marybeth Lorbiecki

Uncle Willie and The Soup Kitchen
by Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan

Beatrice’s Goat
by Page McBrier

The Librarian of Basra
by Jeanette Winter

Daphne’s Book
by Mary Downing Hahn

Make Lemonade
by Virginia Euwer Wolff

by Ben Mikaelsen

The Landry News
by Andrew Clements

by Jerry Spinelli

by Carl Hiaasan

Better Mornings Through Owl Babies

Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson has been one of the Lone Star Baby's favorite board books since she was a teeny-tiny baby. She is rather fond of owls in general and these owl babies are charming and sweet. She now likes to recite parts of it when we are not reading it at all and likes creep me out by pointing to words on its pages - "Back soon!" - and saying them (I am not calling this reading; it is memory with a good head for sequencing. That's my story and I'm sticking to it). The book is about three baby owls who wake in the night to find that their mother is gone and get very worried. They are way-happy when she comes back and the story basically emphasizes the mama-always-comes-back mantra. I think many younger babies would not find the point very useful, having no sense of time, but the Lone Star Baby is starting to get it. Our mornings have been pretty rough lately, with the new school and all, but this morning when we pulled up at her school, which has been her cue for loud wailing so far, the conversation went like this:

LSM: Here we are at school!
LSB: (smiling at me) Back soon!

Now that is some useful children's literature!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Strong Girls, Through Children's Literature

Children's literature has been a big help to me in my efforts to raise strong, independent daughters who know their limitless strength and worth. Both through reading books about strong girl characters and through reading books about the herstory they still don't get in school, I have tried to instill in them the knowledge that they can do anything, although they must be willing to fight for it. Here are some favorites:

Books About Strong Girl Characters
  • Madeline By Ludwig Bemelmans
  • The Ramona Books By Beverly Cleary
  • The Little House Books By Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Tatterhood and the Hobgoblins Retold by Lauren Mills
  • The Betsy-Tacy Books By Maud Hart Lovelace
  • Little Women By Louisa May Alcott
  • The Anne of Green Gables Books By L.M. Montgomery

Books About Herstory for Kids

  • Cool Women: The Thinking Girl’s Guide to the Hippest Women in History By Pam Nelson
  • The Ballot Box Battle By Emily Arnold McCully
  • You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer By Shana Corey
  • Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride By Pam Munoz Ryan
  • The Value of Friendship: The Story of Jane Addams By Ann Donegan Johnson
  • Rare Treasure: Mary Anning And Her Remarkable Discoveries By Don Brown
  • Maria’s Comet By Deborah Hopkinson

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Laura, Pioneer Girl

Today is the birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the much-loved Little House books about her life as a little girl and a young woman in the days during which Americans pushed further and further West. I love these books. They are complicated on many, many levels, from ethics to physics...and are always capable of making me remember how much harder day to day life could be. The Lone Star Girl received a boxed set of all of the Little House books, from Little House In The Big Woods to The First Four Years, from Santa Claus on the Christmas that she was four. They were the books that I read to her in bed at night that year. The Lone Star Girl had a precocious attention span for long books so, considering that Laura was four in the first book, I thought we would make it through a few and save the rest for later. The Lone Star Girl had a different plan, however, and insisted that we continue reading until we had finished all of them, even the one in which Laura was grown and struggling with marriage. I had to edit my reading of a number of parts due to violence and inappropriate material for a four-year-old but most of the content was fine. I am a character/relationship reader mostly, so my brain would go on auto-pilot when I was reading the long descriptions of how to make a well or a straw hat or whatever, but the Lone Star Girl would pull me up short with specific questions on the mechanics of what I had just read and I would have to read it to myself again and figure out how to reply... it was educational for both of us. Strangely, the Lone Star Girl's favorite was The Long Winter, easily my least favorite as it was muy depressing, if very well done. The Lone Star Girl read a few of the Rose books, written by someone else, when she was older, and enjoyed them, but not enough to finish that series, as she had insisted upon with the ones by Laura Ingalls Wilder. One thing besides her wonderful books that I love about Laura Ingalls Wilder is that she did not write her first book until she was 63 years old. That makes me feel like I am not getting such a slow start on my book-writing career after all! Fans of the series might enjoy another book that the Lone Star Girl and I read, Searching for Laura Ingalls, by Christopher Knight, about a modern-day little girl who visits the childhood places of her literary heroine. It has gorgeous photographs.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Children's Authors & Illustrators Week

This week is Children's Authors & Illustrators Week, according to my Half-Price Books Calendar. I am all for recognizing good children's authors and illustrators and will try to post about children's literature as much as possible this week. I love reading children's literature just for my own self, but it has also played an enormous role on my parenting journey. Good children's books have brought my children and I together again and again at the ends of our long days at work and school, snuggled us up close and given us a wealth of shared experiences from which to draw. Children's books have also been our main teaching tools...through them, I have taught my children about our values, about our faith, about history, humor and more. So here is a big thank you from Lone Star Ma to all the children's authors and illustrators out there - too many to name - who have helped me to raise and nurture the little people who are entrusted to me for this short season of discovery: THANK YOU.

Betty Friedan, A Voice for Mothers, Women and the Aged

Feminist activist and author Betty Friedan died on Saturday, February 4th, her 85th birthday, of congestive heart failure. Betty Friedan was best known for her 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, which played a huge role in sparking the second wave of the feminist movement. Betty Friedan's vision of a gentle, sensible, egalitarian path for feminist mothers, found in the book, is not often discussed but is worth reading. Later in life, Betty Friedan used her voice on behalf of the elderly in her 1993 book, The Fountain of Age.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Lone Star Facts On Fridays

State Motto: Friendship

I thought about this one once when I was taking a tour of a ship channel and saw the crew of several international vessels out and about on their ships. I waved at them and they waved back and I made sure to wave at all of them because we are the Friendship State.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Another Obituary for the First Amendment

Cindy Sheehan was arrested last night for wearing a t-shirt that stated the number of soldiers who had died in the Iraq war and asked how many more while she was attending the President's State of the Union address as the invited guest of a Congresswoman.

So...umm...what are they fighting for over in Iraq? Democracy, was it?


Yes, Lone Star Pa thoroughly corrupted my baby with his vices on the days he stayed home with her when she was sick. The Human Torch thing is kind of cute but the Beatle-Mania is out of control.

The Lone Star Baby wanders around now saying "Submarine. Sun (Here Comes The Sun is her favorite song). Bea-tles. Ringo. John. Paul. George (for quite a while, the Lone Star Baby thought George Harrison was her Dad, but she seems to have gotten over that during her graduate course on the Fab Four). Blue Meanies. GROOVY." This may not sound so bad, but at bedtime, she wails "Bea-tles! Bea-tles! Bea-tles!" and it is getting plumb ridiculous. She also clutches the box of Lone Star Pa's Yellow Submarine video tape, murmuring lovingly over the illustrations and shrieking "Mine!" if anyone tries to put it away. A groupie at the age of 19 months...sad if you ask me. Just sad.

Marvel Mania

Lone Star Pa: What does the Human Torch say?

Lone Star Baby: Flame on!!!!!!!!