Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years' Resolutions

Here's my list for 2009:

Family/Home -

1.) Continue doing Lone Star Baby-centric things. We did a good job on that one in 2008 - probably too good of a job - we need to ease up a bit on the structured activities. 2.) Make room for more Lone Star Girl-centric things. 3.) Do more organizing this summer - maybe straighten up one more room - baby steps.

Fitness -

At 37, I am getting old so this needs to be my year for weight loss. I don't think I can safely be this heavy without estrogen's protective effects and my estrogen will be ebbing away ere long. I need to lose 49 pounds to get to where I want to be weight-wise, so my goal is 49 by 40. For 2009, the goal is 20 pounds - baby steps.

Work -

1.) Keep working on the serenity. 2.) Convince the kids that some things must be memorized, no matter how much we all hate that.

Writing -

1.) Can't say I did that well on last year's resolution to spend at least 10 minutes on it at least 5 days per week, but I am going to amp it up anyway: at least 15 minutes at least 5 days per week. 2.) Also, to be accepted by 5 publications (including online ones) that I have not been published in before.

What are your New Years' Resolutions?

Merry Belated Christmas!

I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday and are continuing with the rest of the Christmas season being wonderful, too! We went to Dallas/Denton to see family on the 26th and got back just about an hour ago, very late on the 30th, which is why you haven't heard from me.

Our Christmas was mostly lovely. The mice arrived, the girls had a lovely time, and we got to spend some very nice time with our Corpus relatives. The Lone Star Baby is at the age where presents are very exciting to her and she built "the coolest, most beautiful-est thing ever" with her new play dough set :

I'm not really a fan of such present-focused phases (but I am a fan of cool play dough!) though I definitely fall under their sway and run around trying to make sure the girls have lots of stuff that will make them happy. We are silly humans.

The best thing about this Christmas to me, besides the kids getting to see their cousins, was that it was the first time in a few years that all six of the siblings of whom I am the eldest were in one place at one time.

As the years pass, I expect it will be even more hard to get all of us together for happy occasions. I hope not, though. I stood on a chair and Sarah on a stool if you are wondering. And I still had to stand on my tiptoes. We have a photo just like this in which I was 18 or so and Jazz just a toddler - we fit better then, but I still wasn't quite tall enough.

The road trips this time around were blessedly uneventful, always excepting that Manana Road exit, which was only a matter of being instantly lost and nothing serious. We are glad to be home! Good night!

Advice From The Lone Star Family

Never, ever, ever take the Manana Road exit off of I-35 in Dallas. Don't ask - just don't do it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Mice

Since the guinea pigs joined our cozy household, we have become regulars at a local pet store, buying guinea pig food and recycled newspaper bedding every few weeks. These jaunts have kept in the Lone Star Girl's mind the fate of the baby mice at the pet store, which are not exactly sold as pets, if you know what I mean. The Lone Star Girl became quite passionate about wanting to "rescue" some, even though we all made it very clear that mice, unlike rats, are not much fun as pets, possessing very little pattern recognition and having very short lives. She remained passionate and made her request to Santa.

Santa explained her passion to a kind man at the pet store and they entered into a series of communications aimed at Santa acquiring two female (male rodent urine is too allergenic) mousekins who, by Christmas Eve, would be old enough to leave their mothers, but not old enough to be knocked up. Both Santa and the pet store man were both so sweet about going to this trouble to satisfy the idealism of a young girl. I understand that the mousekins should end up under the tree by morning ...

Christmas Eve Cookie Kringle Mania

Well, we got our annual batches of cookies out to the neighbors' doorsteps and have plenty left over for home and Santa ... and I'm tired! I wish I could manage to get the baking done before Christmas Eve, but I never seem to pull that off....

Independent Play

My kids have never been the sort to want to go play by themselves in their rooms (well - the adolescent wants to hide now, but that's a different sort of milestone) - they have always wanted to drag their toys out to where the people and the action are. I certainly can't blame my girls for wanting company, regardless of the charm of the stories I hear about children immersing themselves in imaginative play in their own little nooks. When we set up the Lone Star Baby's room this summer, she had a brief period during which the novelty of the room kept her playing in it, but it only lasted a couple of days. Recently, however, a sort of Christmas miracle has happened.

Lone Star Pa and I like to sleep in on weekend and vacation mornings since we get very little sleep at all in our workaday lives. Generally, once the Lone Star Baby stopped wanting to nurse back to sleep in the mornings, the only times we got to do this were when the Lone Star Girl generously decided to supervise the Lone Star Baby over cartoons on some such mornings. More lately, though, my repeated (and ignored) admonitions to "play quietly in your room until we get up" have actually been being obeyed! I don't know why, but it has been rather special! In addition to more sleep for the grown-ups, this has also resulted in a deeper interest in legos on the part of the Lone Star Baby, which seems like a lovely bonus to me.

Strange and wonderful times...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Writing Progress Thus Far On This Break

I haven't done much, as I've been busy with Christmas-mania, but here is what I have done:

  • submitted one poem
  • entered one fiction contest
  • followed up on an August book proposal I sent with a phone message to editor
  • left a phone message regarding research for an article I've been working on forev-ah.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Soup Kitchen

The big girls from First Day School and I went to volunteer at a local soup kitchen tonight, the same one the Girl Scout troop volunteered at recently. We got there early and rolled forks into napkins and then they actually asked us to serve, rather than having us hand out plastic ware and sodas and wiping tables like last time, which probably means they really needed the help tonight. Glad we could do something.

Christmas Cards

I used to be very good at sending out Christmas cards (heck - there was a time when I even sent out Christmas videos), but in recent years, I just haven't been able to pull it off. This makes me feel rather guilty, even though I know that I have too many things to keep up with in my life. Still, I enjoy Christmas cards and wish to participate. This year, I took baby steps to getting back into the Christmas card swing of things and sent out about 30. A lot of my old address list is outdated, so I didn't get to send them to everyone I wanted to send them to, and I sent some out so late (after finally finding addresses) that they will surely arrive late, but it was a start. Baby steps, baby steps...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More On Maternal Judgement

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with some mothers who are my friends, my colleagues and some of the generally finest people I know...people who really put themselves out there to help others and who are generally just wonderful. So I was sort of surprised to find myself in a variety of conversations during different encounters where the basic gist from these wonderful people was "parents these days" and how all these parents they knew left something to be you could just tell if someone was a good parent or not.

I find this sort of talk very frustrating. I know I was as bad about judging other parents as any new mother when I was a new mother - I think new mothers do that because they are so afraid of making bad choices that they just have to see choices that are different from their own as wrong as a defense mechanism - but none of the people I was talking to were new parents by any longest shot, and we were all folks who had experienced enough reality with our kids to know better than to think we had the answers that others should be striving for.

Why must the world continue to bash parents so much? I really think we are all doing the very best we can and that we mostly, except in cases of truly egregious abuse, cannot know the balance of good and bad in another family. I really think we should just respect each other for the very hard work that we are all doing. Parents rock.

Neighbor Christmas and Meeting for Eating

Yesterday the Lone Star Baby and I spent some time making brownies and cookies for our wonderful next door neighbors and the dearly loved family that used to live three doors down. Our next door neighbors always get our three families together for a little party for the children - it is so nice. We stayed up late having fun together.

Today, our Quaker meeting is having a Meeting for Eating (Christmas potluck) at the home of our clerk and that will be lovely as well.

It's nice to have a little time off from work to actually get to see people!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Allergy Article

My December column is up on the website for We the People News. Lately, I've read several articles about the fact that deaths from food allergies are actually very rare these days and how we all just need to chill. While I understand the general societal need for chilling (about a whole bunch of things), when you have a child with the sort of allergy that can be life-threatening, chilling really isn't an option. Especially when that child is of an age where you cannot control what she comes into contact with and where compliance on her part is spotty at best.

The Lone Star Girl is bothered by the fact that I no longer eat nut-laden foods that I used to enjoy, because I can't enjoy them anymore. Bothered by it in a sweet way. Other people are bothered by it in a way that makes me want to beat them with heavy objects - Thanksgiving was fun, and I expect that visiting family at Christmas will be very relaxing as well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Breakdown Season

Fortunately, I'm talking about objects, though it probably applies in other ways as well, truth be told.

Perhaps this season of breaking machines began in the summer when our gas line rusted through and started leaking and had to be replaced. Or when we got stranded in Austin and had to replace the radiator in Lone Star Pa's car. Or when the power steering fluid in my car started a slow leak. Perhaps it began in September or early October - whenever it was that the water heater in the garage that heats the water for our washer broke. We haven't replaced that. Washing our laundry with cold water isn't such a big deal, except that we are supposed to wash the Lone Star Girl's bedding in hot water because of her dust mite allergy. And there were those lice the day before Halloween. So it would be good to have a hot water heater there again, and I thought we would save up for one after a bit and all - but things just didn't work out that way as you will see. And we had the dryer, after all, the heat of which could be used for killing dust mites, etc.. So. Perhaps the season began on Halloween when I drove Lone Star Pa's car for the first time in a good while and noticed that it felt tight and difficult to steer. He said that I was feeling it pull right and that it was fine once he fixed the tire involved. Uh huh.

Those previews aside, however, the season got serious the week before Thanksgiving. I started noticing a lot of flickering lights in the house and I also drove Lone Star Pa's car again and found that the steering problem was still there. Our favorite quasi-mechanic shop told us that the power steering pump was about to go and, since having it professionally replaced would cost about as much as the 1994 Camry is worth, I spent a bit of the Thanksgiving break calling and visiting junkyards and Lone Star Pa and my dad spent a couple of really hard days taking out the old power steering pump and putting in the "new" one, because they rock like that. One of my uncles, a journeyman electrician, came over and said an entire breaker box in my house really needed to be replaced, which he then did at cost, with many hours of labor, because he rocks like that. Then he came back twice (as of yesterday) and chased down some other problems, ending with tightening up some connections on a light fixture, so that I finally don't feel frightened of the lights anymore. A couple of weeks ago, my car failed to start at the Lone Star Baby's school after I went to pick her up. Lone Star Pa and my dad got the battery properly watered and charged and it was good to go except that a couple of days later, Lone Star Pa's car wouldn't start so we had to get it all charged and thankfully that looks like it was all it needed. Then the back-up disk for the computer broke and had to be replaced this weekend. Then the dryer broke and the heating element had to be replaced yesterday.

This has been....a little ridiculous, really. As well as a lot expensive. I'm ready for the gremlins to move on.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Lone Star Girl -Thespian

The Lone Star Girl participated in her first speech tournament today. She and her partner got to semi-finals with their duet act (Juliet and the Nurse) and her group won second place in group improv. - she even got a trophy. I am proud of that acting girl!

Silver Award

I was Girl Scout Leader back when our girls were Daisies and for the first two years of Brownies*. After I had the Lone Star Baby, another wonderful mom took over for the last year of Brownies and our wonderful current Troop Leader has had them since they started Juniors. I fully expected to owe another turn once they became Cadettes, but our Leader has graciously stayed on with them, knowing that a Daisy troop is in my future.

I haven't helped much with the troop since the Lone Star Baby came along, and I knew it was time to start pitching in more this year. Cookie mom is the one job I never, ever want to have so I agreed to be the troop's Silver Award advisor as they work on their Silver Award this year and next year.

Things are going to be busy.

*Rules have changed recently so that now they spend two years in each level, but it was different then. - they had one year of Daisies and three years each of Brownies and Juniors.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Four And A Half

Today is the Lone Star Baby's half birthday. This seems like a particularly significant half-birthday because it is was at exactly this age that the Lone Star Girl weaned for good, after a long and gradual and mostly natural process that included only some very mild encouragement from me at the end, when she was already going a week or two in between nursings. The Lone Star Baby has also been saying that she will wean at four and a half and is also going a week or two at a stretch at times between asking to nurse. She nursed to sleep tonight, though.

I have told my four and a half year old girl that she doesn't have to stop unless she wants to - it is up to her at this point, as I am fine with her occasional nursings. She says she is stopping now and maybe she will - she sounds pretty determined when she's not sounding like she's changed her mind about ever weaning. It is so cold these last few days that I am starting to think that the extra immunities provided by nursing through the winter wouldn't be such a bad thing, but we'll see. She's planning her weaning party - says she'll want a princess cake and for us to decorate the kitchen in princesses. The Lone Star Girl requested a Captain America cake at her own weaning party.

Today marks nine (non-consecutive) years that I have been lactating. It doesn't seem that long.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Our Soccer Girl

Today was the last game of the season - our little Yellow Jackets were so cute! We had a potluck picnic at the park where they practice and have their games at lunchtime a little while after the game, and the kids all got trophies. I actually missed the picnic, showing up with the Lone Star Girl after almost everyone had left because I had to pick her up, but I could tell that The Lone Star Baby and Coach Lone Star Pa had fun.

Smart Girls

I just dropped the Lone Star Girl off at a nearish-by high school to take the SAT for the first time. She's taking it as part of that same Duke University seventh grade talent search that I participated in at her age. I think she would really enjoy the summer enrichment classes offered through the program - I know I did, what with the boys and dorms and spotty adult supervision - but I doubt we can afford them.

She likes to roll her eyes at me for suggesting that she take a practice run at the SAT in seventh grade, but I know that underneath her sneering, she is really giving it her all ... because she kind of wants to skip high school. This is a plan I am not thinking I can support, but the merits of which she is still trying to convince me. The other Young Friend in our Quaker meeting, who is three years older than my girl, attended the same public GT program that my daughter is attending for middle school, but then skipped high school and now, at barely 16, is a college sophomore at the local university. My daughter has surprised me by wanting to follow in her footsteps lately.

Their circumstances are, however, somewhat different. Our friend's father teaches at the university and so is around. Also, our friend is a touch more brilliant and a lot more mature, in my opinion, than my also-brilliant but pretty flighty, girl.

I can't see myself going along with this, but I am always glad to see the junior woman aiming for something academic, anyways, so I'm happy to have her trying to convince me. I wish she'd try to convince me with As in all of her academic courses, but she seems to think that would be going too far.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Advent and My Little Light-Seeker

We've decorated the tree that Lone Star Pa has had since first grade with the beloved ornaments that the children have made over the years and some that we've been given. We've decorated the house with paper chains and the Crafts of Christmases Past. We've put up the advent calendar and advent wreath and our little nativity scenes on shelves. The Magi have begun their long trek down the hall to the Bethlehem shelf. We're making Christmas crafts and reading Christmas books. The Christmas season is definitely here!

This year, the Lone Star Baby seems particularly enthralled by Christmas lights. We have some on the tree but don't put any up outside because we don't have an outside outlet. She is on the lookout everywhere we go, telling us in the car you look for Christmas lights on that side and I'll look on this side - tell me when you see some. She also has adopted a variety of superlatives much more firmly into her daily vocabulary than before so that she can describe them - wonderful, great, perfect, so beautiful. Just like her.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Feed The Squirrels!

I heard on NPR that this winter is looking like a no-acorn winter for some unknown reason (scary), so the squirrels are going to be hard up. We are not nut people because of the LSG's allergy ( No nuts! Don't put out nuts! Nuts are scary and evil! ), but we are going to try to put out a lot of birdseed this winter, which I hear is good for them.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I, Marmee

The Lone Star Baby has started talking about wanting a baby brother. She says she wants a complete family, meaning that she feels like we are missing a part of what her version of a proper family is - she has a mother and father and a sister, but no brother. As obvious as that world view makes her luckiness, her desire for a baby brother still pulls on my heartstrings.

My heart ached to provide a younger sibling to the Lone Star Girl during all the years of her childhood when she was just desperate for one. We needed to wait until we wouldn't have two in daycare, and, more importantly, until Lone Star Pa had a stable and decent wage. In reality, we discovered that we couldn't really afford a baby when we did go ahead and have one, even after our waiting and planning, but we are muddling through. Now, I know that I will probably be too old to have children before we are in a financial and practical place to have another (37 is really already too old, if we are being practical, anyways). I know that the Lone Star Baby will probably not just have to wait too long for her little brother - she probably won't get one at all. That does make me feel sad for her.

I also feel guilty when I consider the fact that in my dreams of more children - which I definitely, impractically have - baby brothers for the Lone Star Baby are notably absent. I never really wanted a son. All my dreams are of daughters. Although I long for a larger family, I like having a cozy house of little women. This reminds me of an essay on Marmee's anger that I read and really related to - read it here if you like. Of course, I am really nothing like Marmee. I have not her calm or her capableness or her virtue. I have her anger, though. And her joy in raising little women. My cozy house of little women.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Writing In Fits And Starts

Toward the end of last school year, I started to smell summer and my writing really picked up. I made a lofty list of target market goals - places I wanted my work to be accepted by before 2009. None of them were crazy markets for me to aim for or anything, but actually progressing in getting one's writing out there does require a certain sustained effort....and my sustained effort bit the dust as soon as school started again this fall. Being a decent middle school teacher and a decent mother of a preschooler and a teen at the same time seem to be more jobs than I can handle without dropping dead from exhaustion and/or toxic levels of caffeine on most days. There isn't time for writing or anything else and this is not a happy thing for me. I have met only one of my target market goals so far and think I am going to have to recycle the list as markets I want to be accepted by in 2009 rather than before 2009. Sigh.

That said, I did get some writing done during Thanksgiving Break. I sent off three essays and a poem. I also wrote another essay, am preparing a couple of more things to send off, and did some research for my next column. Not too bad. I would really like my writing productivity to be less erratic, but at this point, I don't really see how that will be happening in the near future, except during school breaks. Some people need less sleep as they get older, I have heard, but that has not been my experience thus far. In fact, my nurse-midwife-health-care-person kind of chewed me out about the fact that I need to be sleeping more at my last annual, even though my mom has always said that sleeping is over-rated. So I don't really see how more time is going to appear. I just don't.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Peace On Earth Begins In The Toybox

The Lone Star Girl and I got up very early this morning to start our day with a little over an hour of standing on a busy street corner along prime shopping routes with signs protesting war toys. Witnessing for something I believe in starts my day off right!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Melamine - It's Here

Now melamine has been found in trace amounts in U.S. -made infant formula. If I wasn't such a Quaker, pacifist, type, I think I'd be calling for taking the Nestle folks and the other formula makers out behind a children's hospital to be shot or something. But I'm not calling for that. We have to use our words. And our wallets.

It sort of serves us right, I suppose. It has always been the U.S. that stands up for the formula companies when they are committing atrocities to infants in Third World counties - now they are tainting our own babies' food supplies. What did we really expect?

Lazy Mom's Fake Veggie Scotch Eggs

I had never heard of Scotch eggs until reading a recent post on Fertile Ground, but the post sparked my interest and I started googling recipes. While real sausage isn't going to happen in my house, veggie sausage choices abound, so the veggie part was easy. The recipes also involved things like creating flour mixtures in which to roll sausage-encased eggs and I knew I would not be doing anything that complicated, so I thought ... puff pastry! Yes! Puff pastry is a lazy mom's friend. I bought a tube of veggie sausage that looked sticky, hard-boiled some eggs, defrosted some puff pastry and we were good to go. For the couple of "authentic" ones I tried to make, I stuck veggie sausage around the hard-boiled eggs and then encased them in puff pastry. I knew Lone Star Pa and the Lone Star Baby wouldn't go for that, though, so I also made a bunch without the soysauge. I baked them at 400 degrees until the puff pastry puffed.

My assessment - eh. The veggie sausage we used wasn't really very good and we ended up picking it out for the most part. I think it could be good with a veggie sausage that tasted more like the MorningStar Farms brand Breakfast Patties, but I don't know how you'd get that to stick without having to use a blender and all kinds of crazy junk like that, which would not be happening here. The ones with just egg and pastry were fun and the Lone Star Baby and the Lone Star Girl really enjoyed the novelty of it. I don't think I'll be doing it often, though.

Call for Submissions - Mamaphiles #4: Raising Hell - Deadline: 1 March 2009

Mamaphiles is seeking submissions for issue #4, with the theme of "Raising Hell," from mamas and papas who are currently producing their own zines.

Previous themes were "Birth," "Cutting the Cord," and "Coming Home" it's time to shake things up! Raising children is hard work and revolution in motion. From rabble-rousing to rampaging toddlers--feel free to interpret the theme wildly.

We are interested in essays, photos, cartoons, or anything else you can come up with!

Because of space limitations, written submissions should be 1500 words or less. Please include a short bio and ordering information for your zine (these will not be part of the word count).

Contributors are asked to edit their own work. Submissions may be spell-checked and reformatted for consistency. Contributors are given the chance to okay any proposed changes before production.

Mamaphiles is a friendly and inclusive project whose goal is self-expression and mutual support. All submissions are accepted. Contributors are invited to join in the collaborative effort, and are asked to assist with marketing and/or production of the zine when possible.

Deadline for submissions: 1 March 2009

Written submissions: Email as a Word attachment to the submission editor, China, at china410 (at) hotmail dot com. Feel free to ask questions.

Visual submissions: Email high-resolution images (300-600 dpi) in .jpg or .tiff formats to both china410 (at) hotmail dot com and the layout designer, Connie, at anarchohippypunk (at) riseup dot net.

For all submissions, please indicate that it's a Mamaphiles submission in the subject line of your email message.

Want to know more about the project? Visit the Mamaphiles site, or visit the zine scene forum at

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More from The Evil Empire

Apparently, Nestle has owned Hot Pockets since 2002. Lone Star Pa just noticed. Good-bye, Lone Star Pa's occasional Hot Pockets!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Guinea Pig Outdoor Exercise Day

Persephone and Pandora in their pen in the front yard...

And with that scary kid...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Our Busy Teen-Ager

On Thursday night, we went to see the Lone Star Girl in her school production of Alice In Wonderland. They had been performing it for elementary school kids and their fellow middle schoolers at school several times throughout the week, but Thursday was the evening performance for parents. The Lone Star Girl was in the chorus and played the Doorknob. She was adorable. She has enjoyed being in this play so much - the rehearsals and the excitement and the performances. She has really been loving her advanced theatre arts class immensely this year. They made the sets and props and costumes for the play and are preparing for a speech tournament. After living the seedy theatre life myself as a teen, I hadn't really thought that I would want a child of mine involved in such things, but school theatre at any rate is really her niche at this stage and I am so happy for her. It has also provided bonding opportunities as I page through my battered old copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare with her, showing her appropriate pieces to use as monologues and duet acts. The only downside is that she is much more interested in practicing her theatre work than in doing her other school work, which has slipped a bit deeper into B-student territory than we would prefer (since she starts getting some grades that go on her high school transcript next year). Still, I am thrilled that she has found her tribe at school.

Last night, the Girl Scout troop went to help serve dinner at Loaves and Fishes, a local soup kitchen that is part of a larger ministry to the homeless in our community. The girls handed out drinks and utensils and cleaned tables. They weren't quite as awed as I would have hoped - I overheard them having quite normal conversations with each other about school and their usual topics. I was hoping they would be more struck by how lucky they are and how many people need their help in this world, but I guess you never can tell how the minds of adolescents will work. I am glad they helped out, just the same.

Meanwhile, I am dodging teen-aged mood swings and trying to instill responsibility as usual. Busy, busy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Twilight Poster - Courtesy of the Lone Star Girl


(Insert book cover picture here)

The best book I’ve read all year! – National Wife Beaters Committee

This book really showed a good set of values that all young couples should follow!
– Misogynist Today Newsletter

What an excellent book! Bella and Edward function like a good American couple! Every woman should be willing to give up everything for a guy! Males are the dominant gender after all. – Patriarchal Times Magazine

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cadette Girl

The Lone Star Girl and her Girl Scout troop bridged to Cadettes yesterday afternoon. We met in a park and they each walked across a little bridge and got their new vests and then had dinner and played. It was nice. They are such grown-up girls! I remember when they were little Daisy Girl Scouts!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Soccer Pa and Soccer Girl

Lone Star Pa is the coach of the Lone Star Baby's soccer team, the Yellow Jackets. He is a very sweet coach. There are eight Yellow Jackets - five boys and two girls. They are one of the very youngest under-6 teams in their league and most of the kids just like running up and down the field together. Two of the little guys, however, are really World Cup material (the Lone Star Baby looks around for one of them whenever the ball gets near her in a game). They are so sweet.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Carpool Pa

Lone Star Pa teaches in a neighboring town and it is a bit of a commute, though not a bad one, though the way gas has been until recently - well. This year, he formed a carpool with another teacher who lives here but teaches there. Thought of it all his own self. I'm proud of that resourceful Lone Star Pa - he has his own way of being green.

Ready Baby

The Lone Star Baby came from school on the day before yesterday full of information from the Ready Bee's visit to their class. The Ready Bee promotes disaster preparedness and wears a bee costume. She had a coloring book about safety plans and colors that the Ready Bee had given her. After we got in the door and I put away our lunch boxes and my purse, I found her unrolling a roll of duct tape and eying the peep hole on our front door.

"There's a hole in that door and we need to duct tape it," she said. I explained that the hole was so we could see who was knocking on our door and that it was not to be taped. She went scurrying off, muttering "White duct tape's for windows, silver duct tape is for doors..."

A very surreal moment.

Monday, November 10, 2008


That, by the way, is a sound of joyful excitement.

GUESS what Michelle Obama's First-Lady-pet-issue is?

Work-Life Balance!!!


Unhappy In My Lipstick

It's a good thing I'm happy with the President-Elect, because I am surely bummed about my lipstick. I am not much of a make-up wearer, but I wear a little for work - some cover-up for my blemishes, some powder as a base for my icky complexion, and a bit of lipstick. For years, I have worn Revlon Gold-Dipped Rose. Now it is nowhere to be found. I had to get Silver-spun Rose which looked closest but is not the same. The trials, the trials...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


The Lone Star Girl went into the Lone Star Baby's room this morning when she heard her stirring and told her that Barack Obama won. The Lone Star Baby had been watching the results with us last night with an electoral votes map and crayons to color the red and blue states, but she fell asleep. When she heard the news this morning, she started jumping and squealing "Barack Obama winned!" over and over again. On the way to school, while I was looking at the newspaper in the drive-through line for tacos, she demanded the paper and had her sister tell her about the pictures of Michelle Obama and the beautiful little girls who will be moving into the White House soon. Then she and her sister argued over possession of the paper until I took it away. She finished coloring her map this evening. We are just so excited.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Blog The Vote

Lots of people feel pretty disconnected from the democratic process and do not believe that their votes can change much in the world. Voting does matter, though. It matters to all of us.

As mothers, it is impossible not to care about the world in which we are raising our children. We care. We do the things that we believe we can do to build a good future for our babies.

We try lots of things: eating healthy when we are pregnant, nursing, cloth diapers or not, immunizations or not, different educational choices - we are always weighing the pros and cons of millions of daily decisions and trying to decide what will be best for our children. Often, we find ourselves facing choices between options we do not like such as leaving our infant to go to work or doing without health insurance for that same infant. We may want better choices, but we choose, knowing that our choice really matters, right or wrong, and that we have to keep looking for and working for better choices.

Voting is one of these choices that we make for our children.

We may not always love the choices we are given, but we have to choose because we know the outcome will affect the kind of lives our children will lead. It will. We may need to keep working for better choices than the ones some elections offer, but we still have to choose each time.

We have to vote for our hopes and dreams...for the world we want for our children.

If you haven't yet, please go vote tomorrow.

A round-up of voting posts can be found at Chasing Ray.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF

The Lone Star Girl decided to trick-or-treat for UNICEF instead of candy this year. We got the little donation box at a local hallmark store and she was good to go. I didn't think it would really go very well, as we didn't get around to preparing the neighbors to have change on hand if they wanted to or anything, but she plowed ahead with it and she did great! She collected $21.52, and we added some to make $25, which is enough to feed 12 hungry kids with some left over to get them clean water. We sent off her donation today. I am so proud of that 13-year-old girl!

Halloween Insects

I mean, besides the lice.

The Lone Star Baby had to be something "alive" and "real" for school at Halloween. If we'd known sooner about her little friends, we might just have let her go as one of those, but she chose to be a bee.

She did not really want to be a bee for Halloween, though. She wanted to be a faery princess, which would not fly at school. We went with the faery princess thing for trick-or-treating, but then she started telling everyone she was a butterfly faery. Whatever. She had fun.

Best Laid Plans

Thirteen, especially on Halloween, seems like a very important birthday to me. We wanted to make it special for the Lone Star Girl. We considered big party options - like a dance at our house with boys, even - but she decided she still wanted a slumber party. I allowed her to invite a truly insane number of girls for our tiny house and we bought all the black decorations with skull motif that her little goth heart could want.


On Thursday, I picked the Lone Star Baby up from school, intending to take her to the Lone Star Girl's school for the Halloween festival that the Lone Star Girl's theatre department was putting on as a fundraiser. However, in the bright sunlight of the playground, I stuff. In the Lone Star Baby's hair. I had seen debris of this sort before. Last year - when she brought home lice. EEK!!!!! I took her home and treated her with Nix and combed through her hair with the nit comb, only finding debris, but it was that sort of debris. We treated the rest of us and picked through our heads late into the night, finding nothing that was not ambiguous. We hauled all the bedding, etc. out to the garage for washing and drying in high heat. We lysol-ed the cars.

We canceled the party.

Even though we were careful and even though we did send the Lone Star Baby back to school for her Halloween carnival the next morning after treatment and combing (with full disclosure, of course), having a bunch of girls sleep in and around our furniture that soon after an outbreak seemed to be asking for trouble. I felt just horrible about it and I know the Lone Star Girl was sad, but she was very sweet about it. We tried to make the weekend as special as we could for her, given that large portions of it had to be taken up with extreme laundry and with the daily combing out of everyone's hair, just in case we missed anything.

There were presents on her birthday morning and there was pizza for supper and later trick-or-treating with the neighborhood kids and erstwhile neighborhood kids and one came over for cake and sorbet afterwards. On Saturday, we took her out to lunch and her auntie took her out to a movie and we watched a DVD at night after the combing rituals. Today, I fixed a special brunch and took her to the mall to get a second piercing in her ears.

I still feel bad, though. She really deserved a better birthday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Henna Head, Henna Hands

The Lone Star Girl wanted me to henna her hair, somewhat for Halloween, but also just to do it, so I did - last night. Her hair is now very red. It's much more red than mine got when I did it in college, because we used the "bright red", fearing that the "red" would be too subtle on her darker hair. This is not subtle. She loves it. I have stains on my hands which I hope will not last as long as her hair.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Adventures-In-Democracy of Liberty Girl, Part Three

Today, the Lone Star Girl gave a speech about Obama to her school (well, one lunch shift of her school) as part of their Mock Election process. Obama Mama is so proud.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


For those who are wondering what I think about last night's show, I didn't watch it. Here are some things I think, though:
  • I don't buy the pica story. I've interviewed a lot of parents of hurt children in my day and didn't feel that rang true.
  • I think that even if you are a loving parent who is only trying to raise a godly child, if your discipline results accidentally in death, you are still responsible. That's why corporal punishment is so wrong - it is just too dangerous.
  • I wrote an article in the July issue of We the People News that addresses my feelings on tragedies like this one.

Project Undercover

This is the time of year when our Girl Scout Council rolls out Project Undercover, their drive for underwear, diapers, wipies, socks, etc. for local foster children, seeing as how undies aren't the sort of thing one usually thinks about when making donations. The girls have been doing this for so many years now - it gives me a warm feeling every time they do it, though. They have pretty much given up on the collection boxes they used to put out at their schools when they were Daisies and Brownies because the kids at school have stopped filling them, but the families all get stuff to donate, which is something, at least. This year, in the theme of underwear, their Leader planned a pajama party. They came in their pajamas with their donations and catalogued them all for DCFS. Then they had snacks and played telephone pictionary. And generally drove the adults crazy. Our girls are wild children.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Early Voting

Early voting started Monday in Texas and I voted today!

October Preschool Pick: The Ramona Books by Beverly Cleary

When the Lone Star Girl was three years old, I started reading Beverly Cleary's Beezus and Ramona to her. She had a good attention span and the picture books we were reading didn't seem to be enough anymore. She wanted to be read to for a good hour at night before she was ready to go to sleep. I had enjoyed the Ramona books as a child and knew that Ramona was only four in Beezus and Ramona. Since the Lone Star Girl's intellect was definitely up to speed with most four-year-olds, I decided to give it a try. She loved the book. We got through it in just a few days and she begged me to read the next one. Within a few short weeks, we had read the whole series and heard that another was due out that August, even though the original set had been written ages and ages ago. That summer, when we were evacuating due to Hurricane Brett, I picked up Ramona's World in Austin and we read it in the motel room. The Ramona books were a wonderful introduction to chapter books for the Lone Star Girl and the start of a lovely tradition for us - we read a series of good chapter books every year after that until the Lone Star Girl was ten and preferred to read her annual Christmas series on her own, so she could get through it faster.

Last year, I tried to start reading the Ramona books to the Lone Star Baby, but she really didn't have the attention span for it and we didn't get very far. Our read- aloud relationship has been a lot more spotty than the one I had with her sister. I think this is partly because she doesn't like listening for as long, but also partly because we are so much more busy these days and have less time for reading. We tried again in the spring and now she is into it. We have read through the first books and are now reading Ramona Quimby, Age 8, after which there are two more. The Lone Star Baby has really enjoyed them. I have found reading the Ramona books to her to be even more special than it was to read them to her sister because, at three, the Lone Star Girl was a very sweet and pleasant child who was rarely any trouble (but look at her now!). The Lone Star Baby is our spunky gal, just like Ramona is her Daddy's spunky gal. I love the sensitive way that Cleary portrays the little handful that is Ramona, showing her goodness and always respecting her. I highly recommend these books for preschoolers who are beginning to be ready to listen to chapter books, most especially the spirited ones.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Almost Teen-Aged Drama Queen

The Lone Star Girl is all about her theatre arts class. She auditioned for the school play which will run in November - Alice In Wonderland - and will play the doorknob and sing (quietly, I hope) in the chorus. She is busy making props and costumes during her class and rehearsing after school a couple of days each week. She has really found her tribe, which makes me very happy. I am a little surprised that I can handle it, given that I was quite serious about acting as a teen - I even attended a special magnet high school for the arts in Dallas - and did not think I would ever want her exposed to that world. It's her thing, though, and she is so happy with it. I am happy for her.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Montessori Baby

The Lone Star Baby has been working hard at school. She drew all of these sea creatures and labeled them in Spanish. Her teacher said she worked on it for over an hour. We are so proud of her.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Adventures-In-Democracy of Obama Mama And Her Almost Teen-Aged Sidekick, Liberty Girl - Part Two

The Lone Star Girl and I originally planned to phone bank much more, but the business of life has intervened, as usual - not to mention minor obstacles like a Democratic Party Headquarters which seems to move around a lot - and we have only phone banked for Obama the one night. We got a phone call asking for more assistance the other night, so tonight we got Lone Star Pa to agree to taking the Lone Star Baby to "ballet" and story time and planned to go phone bank after I picked the Lone Star Girl up from her after-school rehearsal.

That was the plan.

We arrived at the office of a local attorney where we had done phone banking before to find it occupied only by a different attorney, a woman and some police officers. It was kind of weird. They assured us that there was no phone banking there and that they did not know where it was, so we left. We drove somewhat aimlessly down the street that the Party Headquarters supposedly, according to their website, had moved to, although we had tried this before without finding it at the street number that was on the site. I had a hunch that it might be at a particular shopping center owned by some folks with political interests on that street, even though that shopping center was pretty far from the alleged address, so we checked there and it was sure enough the place. The Party Chair was there but she didn't know where the phone banking was. She suggested that it might be at a local state representative's office and was gracious enough to call that office, but the nice lady who answered said there was no one there phone banking and she would take a message. I left one.

We did finally get yard signs and bumper stickers. And I made it to story time after all. And there were several phone messages about phone banking waiting for me when we got home.

October YA Pick: Exodus

Exodus, by Julie Bertagna, is a science fiction story in which floods have ravaged the earth due to global warming and much of the knowledge of earth's technology has been lost by survivors who cling, isolated, to hamlets of high ground that are rapidly disappearing. Fifteen-year-old Mara convinces her village to take to the seas in boats before their town is swallowed by rising waters and to find the cities in the sky that she believes exist. Her people do find one such city, but when they do, they realize that the sky cities are only for a privileged few, protecting themselves savagely from earth's refugees. Mara has to find a way to infiltrate a sky city, form alliances and find a home for her people. This book is written in a simple, reluctant-reader sort of way, but the story is scary - hitting close to home. Young people should read it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Autumn is here at last, even if my keyboard isn't equipped for Spanish. There is a cool breeze in the air and I am starting to finally feel the harvest spirit this weekend, just a little.

We took the girls to the pumpkin patch yesterday and got some pumpkins for the porch and the kitchen. Our autumn wreath is up and I got a fall windsock for the porch with apples on it. Today, Lone Star Pa and I cut out some black and orange construction paper for future Lone Star Baby crafts and he is going to take her to a fall festival after Meeting this afternoon. I got ingredients for making pumpkin bread and picked up a couple of frozen pumpkin pies. Slowly, we are getting into the spirit of things.

I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed lately. People I care about have been going through terrible things. School has been taking all my time and energy and still wanting more and I just had to combine two of my classes last week into one huge class and take on a seventh grade class, which means that things will just be busier and harder. My own kids are very busy with school and activities and we are all exhausted and crabby with each other.

I'm going to try to get my act together and enjoy the cool breezes that are making shy appearances and the waning childhood of my eldest and the waning babyhood of my youngest. I'm going to try to bake and do crafts and spend time outside. And somehow find time to write as well, as these creative slumps really give me the blues.

Autumn blessings to us all.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ballet Blues

The Lone Star Baby really enjoyed the ballet class we signed her up for this past summer and her teacher was the same amazingly fit woman who was my teacher when I was four, a woman who really knows what she is doing in regards to music and movement for young children. I could immediately see a difference in the Lone Star Baby's vestibular issues and knew that signing her up had been a great thing to do. Then came fall registration. The classes being offered for her age group in the fall are on weekday afternoons - far too early for us to be able to make it after work. No evenings or weekends for her age group. I was so disappointed. I knew we'd be able to go back in the summer and that next fall it is likely that the next older age level will be in the evening, but that still leaves this school year.

To bridge the gap, I signed the Lone Star Baby up for the little TippiToes class at our neighborhood recreation center. I knew she wouldn't learn any real ballet in it and that it wouldn't be good for her in the way that the other class was, but I figured it would keep her happy until we can go back. This company mainly takes these little "dance" classes to daycare centers and recreation centers and I thought it would be just all in good fun. It meets on Monday evenings right before we go to PJ story time at the library, so we rush out at the end and she goes to story time in her ballet clothes instead of her PJs. That part would be okay.

The class is scary, though. The two women who run it really seem to enjoy themselves and they are as sweet and as patient as can be with all the little girls, The perkiness and the pinkness of it all just about drives me to homicide. I'd need duct tape if I was taking the Lone Star Girl along. The teachers basically play kiddie music and demonstrate - with great enthusiasm - a variety of motions to the music that the kids try to emulate. It sounds innocent enough, but it is scary. Really scary. They sit around in a circle and take turns saying who their favorite princesses are sometimes. The teachers get scared because an alligator is coming as an intro to one of the songs, but it's okay because it is a pink alligator. There's a song about putting on their make-up. They are all about sparkles.

Pretty much it makes me want to puke.

My feminism has silent screaming fits throughout the entire 45-minute period. I look around to see if the other parents are scared and they look charmed and happy. I feel guilty for not just enjoying the fun that my daughter is having. I feel guilty for exposing her to all that perky pinkness. I don't know how to feel.

I can't wait until summer when we can get back to the ballet school. They had better have a 6pm kinder dance class next fall...I can't take much more of this.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Not Exactly The Kind of Socialism I Had In Mind

I meant health care and childcare. If we are going to nationalize the banking system, could we please have national health care and childcare systems, too?

Thursday, October 09, 2008


This morning as we were gathering ourselves to get out of the car at the Lone Star Baby's school, she said: After you leave my school, but before you go to your school, go and vote for Barack Obama.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I'm An Extremely Honest Person

As I placed my purchases from Target (where I had ventured alone but for my busy four-year-old to forage for my family) in the trunk of my car today, I noticed an item that was beneath something large that had been in the item I was not 100% certain that I remembered paying for...and not 100% sure that I didn't remember paying for, either. I was thinking that it might have been unseen under the box and forgotten, but I wasn't sure and the receipt was not itemized. It was the sort of busy day at Target where going back in would mean a rather grueling game of dodge-car across a large, super-crowded parking lot with the four-year-old and I didn't want to make the unpleasant trek back to the store. No one would ever know - even I would never really know. And the item only cost $1.99. I took a firm hold of the child and went back in and checked. I hadn't paid for it so I forked over the extra $2.08 and left with a clean conscience. Don't I rock?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Banned Books Week

Read something subversive.

Financial Crisis

Looks like this whole capitalism thing hasn't really worked out. And, what with the lead paint and all, we can't even grow our own food here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Today is my birthday, which isn't something I'm really very thrilled about. I had a nice day at Camp Greenhill with our Girl Scouts, working on their American Patriotism patch, which was a lot more interesting and cool than it may sound. I started out a little bummed that I would get no real rest this weekend when I am super-tired, but I ended up very glad to be back at the camp, where I haven't really spent any time since the Lone Star Baby came along. All the millions of unremembered ants near my now ant bite-allergic child gave me a pretty major internal freak-out, but all went well and the day was very nice. I love Girl Scout camp.

I am so bleh, though, about my waning childbearing years and the fact that the third little daughter who I have seen so clearly for years - Juniper Elizabeth - and her twin who I see less clearly, through a haze but definitely there (maybe a Briar Ruby) - will probably just have to remain unrealized. It is hard for me to think of no more pregnancies, no more births, no more babies...I don't like it. I'm not ready. I never got the chance to savor it. I will probably never get that chance.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Soccer Girl!

The Yellow Jackets had their first game today and our little soccer girl had a blast!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paint Problems

Last weekend was home improvement nightmare time. We recently got a letter from Texas Windstorm saying that they had come to inspect our roof, which was fine, but that we needed to fix the paint on our fascia boards by a certain date if we wanted to keep our policy. Um...the paint? I called and checked and they weren't kidding. The paint on our fascia boards has been peeling in an ugly the way the entire nine-plus years we have lived here. We have not wanted to mess with it because our house was built in 1949 and the exterior paint is lead paint and - not having bazillions of dollars for proper abatement - we didn't want to badly contaminate the yard messing with it.

Oh, well.

Lone Star Pa tried to be really careful and wet scrape, leaving as much intact as possible, but it just didn't work. It got all over the place. Very scary.

So, to wit: before, we had ugly paint but most of the yard was fine. Now, the paint looks okay, but the yard is contaminated with lead. Lovely. Thank you, Texas Windstorm. So sensible.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Feeding Folks

Our Girl Scout troop is organizing a canned food drive to donate to the people in need in Galveston after Hurricane Ike, through our local Food Bank. This evening, while I was out at dance class and story time with the Lone Star Baby, the Lone Star Girl went around to the neighbors by herself and collected a bunch of cans. I'm so proud of that girl.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

International Day of Peace

I pray today and every day for peace.

September YA Pick: Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I'm a fan of Rachel Cohn. I think Gingerbread is one of the top ten YA books around, for certain - I love it, love it, love it. I have enjoyed the other works of hers that I have read, but none of them really measure up to Gingerbread - such is the way of things with masterpieces, I fear. Nonetheless, Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist, a book in which she writes the chapters from Norah's point of view and the other author writes the chapters from Nick's point of view, is a most excellent story. It is not for everyone, as it includes a smattering of drugs and plenty of sex and rock 'n' roll, but I'm okay with sex and rock 'n' roll in this context and I really enjoyed the book, which is about two teens who get thrown together for a night of adventure and self-discovery and who, predictably, find each other as well. The Lone Star Girl really liked this book, as well. And I got to introduce her to the idea of Straight Edge punks - what more can one ask for from a novel? A movie of it is coming out soon, but the previews I have seen look like they bear little relationship to the story of the book.

September Pre-school Pick: The Apple Pip Princess by Jane Ray

Sometime between last Christmas and the onset of spring, my sweet girl who used to want to be a firefighter when she grew up became enamored of the Disney princesses. While I gave in pretty fast when I saw how futile my efforts to avoid this were, I feel I should point out that certain other relatives deserve the primary blame for this descent into pink froth.

Anyway, I hardly think it is the end of the world, no matter how much it creeps me out sometimes, but I do feel it is important to provide some much more progressive takes on her little passion to balance out that stupid mermaid and company. In pursuit of that end, I have tried to find strong princess stories like Tatterhood to expose my little princess to and that seems to work better than directly attacking the values of her pink posse. I recently found a nice library book that suited my purposes in this endeavor - The Apple Pip Princess by Jane Ray. In this story, there are three princess sisters living in a kingdom that has been barren since the death of their mother (interesting twist on the king and the land stories). Dad decides that one of them needs to succeed him and gives them a few days to impress him and prove who should get the job. The two older sisters are very self-involved and embark upon self-involved projects but Serenity brings life and fertility back to the land, using her mother's magic. It is a beautifully told story with gorgeous illustrations and nary a Prince Charming in sight.

Spooky Encounter

I took the Lone Star Baby for a short walk around the block this afternoon, as she's been pretty cooped up, and we had an interesting experience. We were passing under a tree and seemed to disturb a bird which flew up out of it...but it sounded really huge. It perched on the house we were walking past and at first I thought it was an eagle as it was bigger than my four-year-old. I realized pretty quickly that it was a vulture, though, and that it was mad at us for crossing between it and the dead little possum it had been about to pounce upon. It kept glaring at us and raising and lowering its wings in this posturing sort of way. I was afraid it was eying the Lone Star Baby with a little too much interest so I scooped her up and carried her most of the way home. I have never seen such a thing in the middle of the city before!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You Know Things Are Getting Crazy When...

We keep the girls to a moderate amount of "activities" by the standards of most middle class parents these days, but it still seems like their stuff (dance, soccer, Girl Scouts, school play) is really keeping us hopping this school year...already. And, of course, the things they are doing have barely gotten started...

I am having unpleasant dreams about trying to leave work on time to get to Marigold's soccer practice and to leave soccer on time to get to Girl subconscious is having anxiety attacks. Plus I know that now that we are getting to the point where we will have to divide and conquer to be sure they each have at least one parent at most things, they are going to start forming life-long resentments about the parent who missed their thing to go to their sister's thing...I just know it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Lone Star Girl On Research

When I challenged her knowledge of something yesterday, she told me she had done lots of online searches about it and: "only reliable sites. No dot-coms, just dot-orgs and dot-govs. And dot-edus - dot-edus are good, too."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Adventures-In-Democracy of Obama Mama And Her Almost-Teen-Aged Sidekick, Liberty Girl - Part One

Today, the Lone Star Girl and I spent a couple of hours phone-banking for the Obama campaign - recruiting volunteers to do more phone banking, basically. The Lone Star Girl loved it and was ever so industrious. The lady who got so mad at me during the caucus showed up, and still seems to have primary-tension issues, but it was all good. I am above such things. We are all on the same side, no matter what she thinks.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Prayers For Galveston

We are holding the people of Galveston and the surrounding area in the Light as they recover from this massive disaster.

Card Shark

The Lone Star Baby to Lone Star Pa in a game of Go Fish today:
Hasten to your doom.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Stay Off The Beach!

How hard can it really be to understand this? Some guy just got knocked off a pier and battered pretty badly and they can't find his friends. And people are still milling around on the beach according to the newscast footage. There is a hurricane in the gulf, people!

Little Democrat

The Lone Star Baby today: "I don't believe John McCain."


I know that gas prices will legitimately rise after this storm, because of all the damage to offshore wells and Texas refineries, but there isn't any reason for them to be rising already except evil, evil greed - business owners trying to take advantage of folks who have to evacuate. Lone Star Pa and I were mad when we saw news reports that some gas stations had raised prices to well over $4 already - we were very happy when we saw them getting busted by law enforcement on the news today. Serves them right.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Sister's out of town and we're ready to go west if we need to go. Watching carefully now.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Family Game Girls, Genius Dad

When the Lone Star Girl was little, we were a family into our board games and card games. It started with the Goodnight Moon Game and moved on to Memory, Candy Land, Hi-Ho Cherry-O!, Uno, Go Fish, Scrabble Jr., Sorry, Inner Circle and more. We had lots of fun, even with Candy Land - it's a gateway drug, you know. This era of our family life spanned from about the Lone Star Girl's age of three until the infant Lone Star Baby ceased to be content to nurse to sleep in a sling. Then it kind of fizzled because the baby was really too into everything for us to sit down to a game when she was awake. Lone Star Pa and I continued playing real Scrabble, a game that never appealed to the Lone Star Girl since she can't spell, on occasional late nights when the kids were asleep, but Family Game Night was a thing of the past. I looked forward to its someday return.

The Lone Star Baby got lots of games around about the age of three, but she caught on to them more slowly than had her sister. Now, at four, she is just entering her phase of loving lots of kinds of games. I am excited, her love for Pretty, Pretty Princess notwithstanding. She has a really hard time holding a hand of cards in her tiny hands, though, so Lone Star Pa came up with a wonderful invention - he cut a notch half-way down into a board to serve as a card holder for her.

I think he's just the best daddy in the whole world. Is she cute or what?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Inhibiting Her Mutant Abilities

We got the Lone Star Girl a med-alert bracelet for her allergies. It came in the mail the night before last and she, none too pleased, started wearing it. She calls it her mutant inhibitor bracelet because she says that, in comic books, parents always tell kids they have to wear med-alert bracelets when really the bracelets are devices to hide and inhibit their mutant powers. She knows!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Media Monopoly in Corpus Christi

One of our three local news stations is essentially being acquired by one of the other two, courtesy of some crazy FCC loophole. Rumor has it that the feisty, low-budget station that is being bought will soon stop having its own newscasts and start airing the polished, fluffy newscasts of the one that is buying it. I don't know if that rumor is true, but, if it is, I guess we will soon have more opportunities to watch canned stories about, oh, exploding condos in North Dakota rather than actual local news coverage. Sigh....

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Misogyny Of It All

Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton and I don't want a creationism-in-schools, drilling-in-the-Artic- Wildlife-Refuge, gun-loving type person like herself in office by any means, but people need to lay off bashing her parenting. Would a man get any of this, I ask you? Society's misogyny is sick, sick, sick.

The Junior-Woman

The Lone Star Girl came in the kitchen today and asked me if the dress she was wearing - that could only be described as a version of the classic little black dress - made her hips look big. I told her no, that she looked nice, and she meandered off. Lone Star Pa gave me a shocked and somewhat panicky look. Yep, Daddy, that was our little girl.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Way Too Busy

This was the first week of school for the Lone Star Girl and for my students and the students of Lone Star Pa. We have been busy.

The Lone Star Girl started seventh grade and I have been doing a lot of talking/e-mailing to the school nurse about where which emergency medications for her allergies should go and all that ... the nurse seems great, much smarter than I. We've also had transportation issues. Our district has made cuts to its school bus routes and we no longer have one. They expect me to let my daughter walk almost two miles to school with all her books across one of the city's busiest streets during rush hour with no crossing guard and through a bit of a dicey area on the other side ... no. I am therefore having to drop her off at school an hour and a half before it starts so that I can then drop the Lone Star Baby off at school, and get to work on time. Fortunately, the Lone Star Girl's wonderful school lets them in the cafeteria that early, so I don't have to worry too much. My sister is probably going to be picking her up from school most afternoons, but she had to leave town this week (right after moving into her new apartment) for a funeral, so I have been zipping out of work at the earliest time we are allowed to leave to get the Lone Star Girl, not something that I would be able to do all the time, and picking her up outside of her school about 45 minutes after she gets out. Whew!

The Lone Star Girl is mostly full of her usual jaded negativity about seventh grade, particularly since she doesn't have lunch with her group of friends, but her school has added a daily Spanish class which makes me happy and she already adores her "advanced" theater arts class. She is really very lucky. School has gone well for me this week, except that I have a nastier version of the Lone Star Baby's cold and am pretty miserable from it, and Lone Star Pa had a good week, too. The Lone Star Baby is jumping right into big girl work at her school - making words with the sandpaper letters and all - we are really proud of her. Her school had a potluck social last night and we enjoyed it before going home to watch Obama's speech.

I really want to go to bed now but I need to watch the news and see what's going on with this hurricane. My brother at Tulane has already been evacuated to Georgia but I have a brother in Houston as well as ourselves to worry about, as well as all those other people ...

I Heart Barack Obama

After that speech, I'm almost ready to marry him as much as vote for him, but I don't think he'd be into a group thing even if Lone Star Pa could be convinced. Even if he can't be my husband, though, Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States and our children, all of our children, will reap the benefits.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back to Bustling

Those golden summer days are definitely over. I was at work all this last week, and the Lone Star Baby officially started school Monday, after the two play days at school the week before. Also on Monday, Jazz and her dad came down to bring her back for college and move her into her new apartment (They now have privately owned college-kid apartments that will place you with folks like dorms do, except that you have your own room and bathroom - how fancy is that? She knows two of the three girls she got a quad with). The girls enjoyed having Grandpa stay with us for the week and are excited to have Auntie Jazz back. The Lone Star Baby has had a cough since Monday night and it sounds yucky, but her Grandpa wasn't concerned and he's a doctor. Being a bad mommy, I sent her to school anyway, which Grandpa said was fine, because she really didn't have a fever and doubtless caught the cold there anyway and I had to go to far we have fallen from those new mom ideals. Really, she is running around like normal all day, though, so it seems silly to keep her home and get in all kinds of trouble at work. The only sign that she is under the weather is that she is a bit fussier in the evenings and early mornings. I've been giving her guaifenesin to loosen up her mucous and boy does she love that - not. She has really enjoyed being back at school, but still talks about how she wishes we could stay home - me, too.

Meanwhile, Lone Star Pa and I have taken turns making the Lone Star Girl help us get our rooms set up and school starts Monday, for us and for the Lone Star Girl. Back to crazy days and crazy nights and paces no one should have to keep, people. Modern life...sigh.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

August YA Pick: Those Damned Vampire Books

It pains me to choose Stephanie Meyer's Twilight books for this month's pick, as there is so much that I dislike about them, but there is no doubt that they are written in a compelling and talented way and that they have become the Harry Potter of preteen/young teen girl reading in the sense of encouraging kids to read big ol' humongous books. These books are about an idiotic teen girl who falls in love with a vampire who doesn't suck human blood. She also has a bit of a werewolf boyfriend on the side for awhile, who seems like a much more pleasant person than her over-controlling, bloodsucking beau...sort of. The worst thing about them is what my daughter calls the Little Mermaid Effect - the way the dumb girl is willing to give up everything for a guy. It's very vomit-inducing. That said, I couldn't put them down and neither could the Lone Star Girl.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pumping Alum

We had some brown-outs in the neighborhood today. I think the last time we really had any significant ones was when the LSB was an infant and they filled me with a deep, deep panic. Today, though, there were absolutely no precious, all-important bags of frozen breastmilk to worry about.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summer's End/Doctor Summer

Well, in a couple of hours, summer will be over for me. I am going to take the Lone Star Baby to story time at 11, but then I have to go up to school to get my classroom in order - I've already spent some time there, of course. Lone Star Pa and I start back to work officially tomorrow, and our students return on the 25th, which is when the Lone Star Girl will start back to school. The Lone Star Baby will go to her school for "play days" tomorrow and Friday while we are at work and then her school starts for real on the 18th. The Lone Star Girl will get dragged along to lots of staff development and work days with her father and I so she can help us with our rooms and have less unsupervised time. She's not happy about that, but I do pay her.

The summer has been mainly lovely - these golden family months are like having a maternity leave every year and are such a blessing. We have been pretty busy. In the main, it has been a doctor summer. For two years now, I have been trying to get a grip on the Lone Star Girl's health, without much support from the doctors I have taken her to, who have pretty much blown me off and said she was fine, when she clearly - to me - was not fine. It seems to come down mainly to bad allergies, mild asthma and some reflux. We spent most of the summer in doctors' offices getting it all straightened out and now she is sleeping in a very dust-controlled environment, getting shots, measuring her peak flows and carrying an Epi-pen. There's still going to be some stuff to straighten out at school, but I feel greatly relieved to finally have a good doctor and some good answers and to be on the right road, even if it is probably going to take another year to see the kind of improvement that will really make her feel much better. She has not enjoyed all of the time at doctor offices and is so accustomed to feeling crappy by now that she doesn't really see the point of treatment, but I'm going to get this girl well, whether she likes it or not.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jesuits In Space

I recently read two really excellent science fiction books about Jesuits making first contact with an alien planet by Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow and its sequel, Children of God.

Friday, August 08, 2008

August Mamalit Pick: The Ten-Year Nap

The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer seems, at the beginning, to be mainly a novel about a woman who quit her job as an attorney to stay home with her baby son and who, ten years later, is struggling to figure out what her place is in life and where she wants her life to go. It turns out, however, that the book is more of what we would call an ensemble piece if it were a play, with a fairly in-depth exploration of the way work and family issues have impacted the lives of all of the women in the story, and even of their mothers and some tangentially related women. Each individual piece is very well written and substantive and I found myself really enjoying the novel, although I seldom do enjoy popular, mainstream, contemporary adult fiction, as I am often somewhat repulsed by the characters in bestsellers. Although I really enjoyed reading the novel and enjoyed each piece taken individually, I am not sure that I like the message I get when all the pieces of the ensemble are put together. Taken together, at-home motherhood seems to be portrayed as something rather childish and unsatisfying in the long run. The women who are content with it in the book are a bit weird. The mothers with whom one is led to identify find it troublesome. These viewpoints seem valid enough in each individual woman's story, but I do not like the message when they are all put together. It seems a bit disrespectful to me. The novel is still an excellent read, however, if one can try not to find a theme, but take the women's stories separately instead.