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!