Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Interview Meme from Alkelda the Gleeful of Saints and Spinners

Happy Birthday, Gleeful One! Now, I answer your questions:

1 )What fairy tale, myth or fictional story are you most drawn to as your own, and why? Tell me about childhood associations, parallels with your own life, fulfillment of wishes, etc.

Selkie stories resonate the most with me. I am a sea person, for one reason and the sea always resonates. Also, I am a fish out of water most places; I never quite fit in...that might be it. Or not.

2) What story makes you angry? How does it make you angry?

The Giving Tree sucks, of course, for obvious reasons. The Disneyfied version of the Little Mermaid pisses me off - trading one's voice for a man and all - but the real story is not so insipid. I am really more angered by some of the non-fiction "stories" we tell...the Good Mother, the Heroic Teacher...all that crap that tries to trap us into carrying alone the burdens which belong to the whole society.

3) If you could choose three books to be brought back into print, which ones would they be?

A. Noah's Castle.
B. The cat one. You know the one I mean, Alkelda, with Egypt...what's it's called? I can't find it just now.
C. Everything by Joan Slonczewski. I know that's cheating.

4) Tell me about the movie you want to see that has not yet been created.

I really wanted them to make post Return of the Jedi Star Wars movies at the time, but I wouldn't want them to now that everyone is older. I don't know. Maybe if they could make a good A Wrinkle In Time instead of the sucky one they made, but I don't think they could. Or a good The Dark Is Rising, but I don't think they could.

5.) If you had free reign in your classroom to decide the curriculum, what would it be?

I don't much mind our curriculum. It is Texas History that I teach and the only problem is that we have one year to cover Texas from the beginning of human history until today You need more time to teach any of it well. I think I'd make it two years, with the first year being the beginning of time through Reconstruction plus government and the second year being Reconstruction to the present plus government again. Government's important.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Art exhibit

The fifth graders at the Lone Star Girl's school always make Native American-style storyteller sculptures. I really love all of them - I think they may be my favorite style of sculpture with all the little baby critters of various kinds. This year was the Lone Star Girl's turn and her storyteller sculpture was chosen to be exhibited at the district's elementary art festival, which was on Friday night. We went and saw her sculpture and the other art chosen from around the district and got to listen to elementary school choirs and watch elementary school dancers, too. It was very nice.

The Lone Star Girl's sculpture was a seahorse and seahorse babies. There was a slightly bigger baby sort of sitting (floating?) in the storyteller's lap and little embryonic ones in his (seahorse daddies carry the babies, you know) pouch and on his head. It was beautiful. I'm so proud of my girl.

Middle School Orientation

On Thursday night, we went to orientation at the middle school that the Lone Star Girl will start attending in the fall. She loved it because it has a soda machine. She is in a gifted program that will continue so that, in middle school, she will continue to have core academic classes with mainly the same highly motivated youngsters she has attended school with since the first grade, but still...middle school. The horror.

Peace and Sorrow and Love

On Monday night, it being the 4th anniversary of the U.S.war on Iraq, the Lone Star Girl and I attended a peace rally at a large local park. It was sponsored by our local peace alliance and some other groups. There was a band there playing all the old protest songs from my mothers' days and a lot of local clergy there to speak. They spoke of all the dead, reading the names of our local dead soldiers. We prayed for all of the soldiers there now to come home safely...and we prayed for the safety of the Iraqi civilians, many more of whom have been murdered in this war for control of the Earth's remaining petroleum stores. The ministers reminded us that we are the people we have been waiting for and that we must insist that our government end this unjust war. And so we must. I could feel the cold breath of those dead soldiers all around me as a medicine man from a local Native American tribe called on their spirits...may they rest more peacefully soon.

Before everything got started, I went to get a blanket from were we had left our car for us to sit upon. When I got back, the Lone Star Girl was giving an interview to a local news station. She's not as bold as all that, though. After everything was over, the band was playing and people started singing and dancing, trying to find some community after so much sorrow. A group of wild and gorgeous kids were waving candles and dancing all around. "The Unitarian kids," I said sagely to our Meeting's clerk. Those Unitarian kids are hip, you know. Not to let the Quaker kids be outdone, his 14-year-old daughter tried to take the Lone Star Girl's hand and lead her out to dance, too, but the Lone Star Girl would have none of that. I danced with the other Quaker girl and my Quaker girl acted like I was just some weird lady she happened to be standing near. Not so bold as all of that.

For all the sorrow, the sense of community was very good to feel. I must carry it with me and let it light my way.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


We are temporarily computerless due to repairs. I have lots to post about but cannot really splurge on library-computer time. Later, mamas!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

First Attempt at Reverse Psychology

Last night, the Lone Star Baby took a book to Lone Star Pa and requested that he read it to her. He said that he would in a little bit and she stood there, looking at him for a moment with a disgusted expression that bespoke her knowledge that his "little bit" was not her "little bit". Then...her expression changed.

Lone Star Baby: No...you can't read this book.
Lone Star Pa: (surprised) I can't? Why?
Lone Star Baby: It's a very big book...

She then looked at him with a studied casualness to see if he was taking the bait...about the funniest thing I've ever seen.

St. Paddy's Day

Happy St. Paddy's Day! The luck o' the Irish (or, really, much better luck than that) to thee (and me! And everyone!) and all of that!

We had a nice St. Paddy's Day morning. The Lone Star Baby helped me make our traditional holiday breakfast of sweet orange rolls and breakfast strips, but we colored the icing green in honor of the day and served the brunch on paper shamrock plates with shamrock napkins.The Lone Star Baby colored the icing and set the table and put banana slices on the plates...my big helper.

We all wore green today. The Lone Star Baby wore a bright green dress with white polks dots that my nextdoor neighbor from my mid-childhood home in Dallas made for my baby sister's second birthday - my baby sister's birthday is St. Paddy's Day and she turned 18 today (Happy Birthday, Jazz!). My sister gave the dress to the Lone Star Girl when she outgrew it, and I gave it to my niece when the Lone Star Girl outgrew it and she gave it to the Lone Star Baby when she outgrew it and so on...it is special. I sort of wanted to get the Lone Star Baby's portrait made in it today, but the afternoon and evening became very tantrum-fraught, so we will save that for summer, I think. It will still fit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Ironic Suckiness of the Anti-Suck Supernanny

I have watched episodes of Supernanny on television before, with that sort of horrified exhaustion with which one sometimes watches a bad TV show in disgusted fascination. I have never liked the woman. Her condescension to parents bothers me a great deal. Her reliance on 'techniques" is the antithesis of what I consider good, connected parenting to be. Her anti- co-sleeping, cry-it-out stance often seems abusive to me and never seems good. About the only decent thing I could say about her is that she does not condone corporal punishment. Last night, I actually watched an episode on purpose because I caught promos implying that she would be weighing in on toddler breastfeeding. It was even worse than I expected.

On the program, a mother was nursing a strongly and securely attached fourteen-month-old who slept with her parents and wanted to be carried most of the time. It should be pointed out that while the biologically appropriate age range for weaning is 2.5 to 6 years, if you care about science, during which time a child ready to wean will wean itself with no need for any sort of technique at all, very few American or British children are nursed anywhere nearly as long as 14 months, due to cultural prejudices that make it hard for women to even consider nursing for the span that would allow for optimal health and development. The mother in question ought to have been applauded and supported for making a choice, unusual in our culture, that was so good for her child. She wasn't, though.

Supernanny was very, very careful not to directly knock breastfeeding, in an attempt - no doubt- to prevent the Web from lighting up with this sort of post. She carefully insisted that continuing to breastfeed or not was entirely the mother's choice and that she would help the mother with the "problem behaviors" she, the Supernanny, had identified - nursing to sleep, nursing a lot, wanting to be carried all the time, co-sleeping - either way. She was, however, the one who brought up the fact that the mother was still breastfeeding, who said that the child and mom were using each other as a "pacifier" (like that's a bad thing) and who implied that the mom was only still nursing for emotional reasons and that there might be something wrong with that. She was careful to put on a more respectful front than I have ever seen her use, but all of her careful wording led in the same direction. Anyone who has ever nursed a toddler knows that the behaviors the Supernanny saw as problems are part and parcel of the breastfeeding relationship and, while individual families will adjust on what they need to adjust, most folks are not going to be nursing for the long haul unless that sort of co-sleeping, babywearing culture exists in the family. It is just the way most young one-year-olds are when they are allowed to develop on their own timetables and not the hurtful timetable of the me-first Western culture.

Naturally, mom decided to wean and to get the baby out of her bed. Supernanny graciously helped her, of course, and the woman was appropriately grateful. The help involved bottles of cow milk and crying it out in bed and then crib. A rare mother, doing what was best for her child in a culture that makes such actions almost impossible, talked out of it and made to feel happy about becoming another cog in the machine. Sad, sad, sad. Big thorns for Supernanny...what a royal bitch.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring Break!

Cookie season is truly over and it is spring break! Yay! My baby sister and two of her friends (they are high school seniors) are here visiting and all is right with the world! I don't even mind a bit that it is raining!

Sunday, March 11, 2007


The current issue of The Utne Reader has some excellent articles about midwifery as the answer to the current crisis in maternity care in the United States. For a developed nation, we have some startling mother and infant mortality rates and the reasons pretty much come down to the obstetrics-oriented culture of intervention in childbirth. While all of the academic studies in medical journals, etc. show that midwife-assisted births are safer in uncomplicated pregnancies than births attended by an OB, you rarely will hear that from OBs. While OBs can get plenty of business from the high-risk pregnancies that need them, they still seem jealous of midwives and tend to do things like lie about what good practices are and make sure midwives do not get privileges at hospitals (something the OBs have done in Austin).

I myself have seen both sides: I have experienced how the pitocin and epidural-laden attentions of an OB lead to a stalled, more dangerous labor and then how different it can be with a patient, woman-centered, supportive midwife. It is really, really different. Really different. My sister will be having her second child in April and I can tell from listening to her that she is headed for the difficult, intervention-laden sort of birth that she and I both had with our first deliveries. Now that I know how different and joyful it can be, that makes me sad. You really can't talk to people about it, though. Regardless of what the research says, most people still think of midwifery as hippy-dippy nonsense and they won't listen. It will take OBs getting on the bandwagon before U.S. births get safer and I don't know what is going to make that happen. Maybe the HMOs. I hope so.

March YA/Upper Grade Picks

Here are some great books for older elementary kids and adolescents for March. I meant to post about some of them in, um, September, but things have been sort of crazy lately:

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman (a Red Scare novel)

Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton (magical and actually makes you want to learn more about the history of printing, if you can imagine!)

Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy (another excellent family redemption story by the author of Indigo Blue)

Drita My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard (a sweet story of multicultural friendship)

Fires of Jubilee by Alison Hart (a truly excellent historical novel that takes place in the time immediately following the Civil War - the best novel I have ever read from that period)

Can't Get There From Here by Todd Strasser (a gritty novel about homeless teens that reads a little too much like a Scared Straight diatribe - you kids better not be homeless because look at what will happen to you! - which is stupid, since no one wants to be homeless, but still a decent read otherwise)

Signs That Your Toddler Has Been Sick Too Much This Winter: A Color Primer by The Lone Star Baby

"This wall is white like the white medicine."
"My Diego shorts are anaranjado like the orange medicine."
"My shorts are pink like the pink medicine."
"Is that purple like the purple medicine?"

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Care Crisis

The current issue of The Nation has in it an excellent article by Ruth Rosen called The Care Crisis about our stalled feminist revolution and how women are carrying the weight of the crisis in our nation's non-system of supporting the care of children and the elderly. I highly recommend it to everyone. I think I am going to have to start subscribing to The Nation again. I had a subscription years ago as a much younger person, but let it lapse as I became a mother because, as with many of the politically oriented publications I used to read, it did not seem to pay adequate attention to the political issues that I was concerned with...issues just like the one this article addresses. Many such publications (can you say The New Republic?) still seem to marginalize and mock the very real political issues that affect families with children all over the U.S., but The Nation seems to be starting to pay serious attention to these issues, and I am grateful.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sick Again

I am home from work with feverish, boogery, sore-throated girls again, waiting for it to be time for their doctor's appointment. They are feeling better than they felt last night, though.

A Quaker Child!

For the longest time, the Lone Star Girl was the only Quaker child in Corpus Christi. I started having First Day School at home with her when she was three and a half or so, but I used to stop over and attend Meeting with her in Austin a couple of times a year if I could, on our way to or back from visiting family in the Metroplex, so that she could attend First Day School and see that there were other Quaker children in the world. During that period, our Meeting was made up of basically three other women besides myself and they were all past childbearing age, so it looked, for awhile there, like I would be responsible for re-populating the Meeting all by myself (with Lone Star Pa's assistance). Then, one beautiful day a few months before the Iraq War started, a nine-year-old girl walked into our Meeting and we had sort of a real First Day School, with me as the teacher, though I have always let the girls lead for the most part, as they are pretty capable. That child is now 14 and it has been a deep joy to have her here in our Meeting. On Sunday, another joy: in walked a two-year-old! I do not usually bring the Lone Star Baby to Meeting, as she is noisy, but I called Lone Star Pa and had him bring her over and they played with the daddies in another room while we had Meeting. Such joy!

The Quaker Quilt!

The Lone Star Girl and the other lovely girl in our First Day School have been trying to work on the First Day Schools Peace Quilt project that I have posted about before. The idea was that the different First Day Schools in South Central Yearly Meeting would contribute squares and our Meeting's resident amazing quilter, a woman who made a beautiful quilt for the Lone Star Baby when she was born, would make a quilt of them, with our inexpert help. Friends in SCYM could donate money to get their names put on the border and the girls would donate the money to the American Friends Service Committee, to support their peace and justice work. It has been more than a year and is getting mighty close to Yearly Meeting and, until now, not much progress had been made. The girls made a few squares and the Friends Meeting of Austin's First Day School sent a square, but, until now, that was as far as the quilt had gotten.

On Sunday, though, as First Day School time was waning, our quilting Friend walked in with a miraculous bounty. Another Friend, from a Monthly Meeting in SCYM, someone that the girlsand I had never even met, had called me and told me that she was going to make quilt squares for all the Monthly Meetings in their Quarterly Meeting and give them to our quilting friend, who she knows, to pass on to us. That sounded very nice and I guess I was expecting four or five squares or so. Our Friend told us that this Friend said, however, that she couldn't stand for the girls not to get squares for their quilt so she made a square for every other Monthly Meeting in SCYM!!! It is going to be a big quilt now. An amazing one, too! This woman is an artist and she sewed together the most amazing squares you have ever seen! They are gorgeous! There is one for a Worship Group that has only one person in so it shows him with a flag on the moon. There are countless gorgeous, fascinating ones like that that depict things about each Meeting or the place where it meets. To me, the most amazing one is the one for the Friends Meeting of New Orleans which shows a house (a Meeting House?) with the waters receding...I start crying every time I think of it...

So. This project is not a First Day Schools project anymore, since this one amazing woman to whom we are so grateful made most of it, but it is still a Peace Quilt and we will get it made and give it to the Ministry and Care Committee of SCYM when it is all finished and the donation to the American Friends Service Committee is collected and sent, so that it can be passed around to the members of SCYM in need of nurturing...a Care Quilt.

Memorial Meeting

On First Day, we had Meeting at our clerk's house and we had a sort of Memorial Meeting for my friend. I say a sort of one because she had told her family that she did not want any sort of memorial service, so we did not make any arrangements or invite anyone especially...our memories of her were just called up naturally in the gathered Meeting. We spoke in Meeting of what she meant to us and it was good to be together and to hold her, and each other, in the Light. We are going to draft a Memorial Minute and send it to South Central Yearly Meeting.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Cookies That Just Kept Coming

Another thing that made February very busy was cookie deliveries and booth sales. The Girl Scout cookies came in and we had to deliver them and collect and turn in the money. The girls also had three booth sales. We have now delivered all of our orders and had the three planned booth sales and cookie season should be over for us. It should be, but it isn't. Our cookie mom planned that the two last booth sales we were assigned (Petco and Sam's) should sell together about as much as the first assigned booth sale (You-Know-Where) would sell alone, which we all thought was reasonable...but actually the last two sales didn't do that well and we are now stuck with a bunch of cookies, which we will have to sell since we are responsible for them as a troop. Joy.

Egg In A Nest

Frying and Lone Star Ma are not a good combination. I don't do much true cooking at all, due to time constraints, so my skill level has remained relatively low (for someone who is the eldest of 6+ siblings; I'm not incompetent or anything), but frying is something I have way more trouble with than most cooking attempts. It pretty much never goes off without a hitch. All the same, I get the urge to try from time to time and today was such a day. When my younger siblings were tiny and I was in college, their babysitter, a close family friend, used to make them Egg In A Nest. My baby sister, then a toddler the same age as the Lone Star Baby is now, could not get enough of it. Egg In A Nest is when you make toast and cut a circle out of the middle of it, then fry the toast while frying an egg in the little cut-out circle in the middle. I made it today - sort of. As with all my other attempts to make it, the eggs and toast looked pretty messy by the time I was finished. Also, I had, as is my routine when frying, to open the back door in the kitchen so the smoke would go outside before setting off the alarm, but it tasted pretty good. I gave the baby the least burnt-looking one and she pronounced it "very, very yummy", even though I know its appearance did not inspire in her the toddler magic that was once my sister's experience. The Lone Star Girl is made ridiculously happy by such rare forays into home cooking on my part. Sigh.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Political Grrrl

I just love the Lone Star Girl's political expressivity. I may be in the minority on this opinion (right at home there), but I do.

She carries around a giant binder-like thing on a strap for a school backpack and she has a bumper sticker stuck boldly across it that says "IMPEACH BUSH!". She also has a PETA sticker on her purse that says something like "I cut class, not frogs".

I recently re-noticed the little wreath she made in Girl Scouts for Thanksgiving - I cannot remember if I posted about it before. It is a round-fastened bunch of twigs with construction paper leaves in autumn colors on it. Each leaf has something she is thankful for on it. Hers has six leaves:
1. Food
2. Friends
3. My Dad
4. My Mom
5. My Sister
6. Democrats winning the House and the Senate.

And she's only eleven! Imagine the sort of calls we'll be getting from the FBI when she's 19! I'm so proud of her.