Thursday, December 31, 2009

An Ode To My Faithful Reader In Woodsboro, Texas

Howdy.  I don't know who you are, but you sure keep my spirits up about this blogging thing, even though you don't seem to comment, which you are certainly welcome to do.  Thanks for reading!  

Happy New Year.

Goals For The New Year

The only ones of my resolutions that I really was successful at this year was keeping up with Lone Star Baby centric activities and getting my students to memorize stuff - not the stuff I really needed the most work on, in the big picture.  We did pretty well on focusing on more Lone Star Girl centric stuff in fits and starts but the summer's appendectomy kind of got in the way.  I'm rather discouraged at how things always seem to get away from me - always - but I feel like I should keep setting goals anyway.  So here goes:


              1.)  2010 will be a big year for the girls.  Both will start new schools in the fall and we don't as yet know what school either will go to, as there are tests and application processes to be gotten through and such.  Goal number one is to therefore get the Lone Star Baby settled successfully into her new school for first grade and the Lone Star Girl settled successfully into high school!  2.)  Continue carving out enough time for the girl's activities  and social lives, including guiding the Lone Star Girl's Girl Scout troop successfully through the completion of their Silver Awards.  3.)  Have more fun with the husband - this never seems to make it to the top of the list, but it needs to.  4. More organizing this summer - like getting to one more room, which I didn't do this year.

Health and Fitness:

           1.)  Since I didn't lose any weight this past year, I need to lose more this year:  26 pounds at least! 2.) Spend more time with friends - this one is for mental health.  Most of my closest support system picked up and moved out of state at summer's close, so I need to  work on that.


       I'm going to have to stick with the serenity thing.  There are other things, of course, but none of them are as important as that. 


         I had set myself a more recent goal of finishing a first draft of my Baby Moon book by the new year and I came very close but I'm not going to make it.  All of the essays are written but my resources chapter still needs work and I haven't started the introduction chapter yet.  I will finish it before January's up, though, so my first writing goal is:  1.)  Revise Baby Moon and get  proposals out on it  (after seriously celebrating getting the first draft done).  2.)  Get poetry or articles or essays accepted for publication in 3 new markets.  3.)  (for summer and after) Finish first draft of poetry book.

I am reminded that a really good thing we did do this year is work hard to fight Las Brisas so that our children and the children of this community can remain well.  We  wrote articles and letters and e-mails and passed out information and held demonstrations.  Not too shabby.  Things are changing, but that fight will continue for awhile, in one form or another.  Sometimes we have to put aside goals we planned for more important goals that come up, and I guess that isn't bad.  We did what we needed to do this year and that is what counts.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Language Baby, Government Girl And The Unknowable Future

I often think that the Lone Star Baby would make a good linguist someday because she is so interested in words.  She has always been strangely verbal and now is at the point where she can actually express some of the things she is thinking about language.  Her revelations are interesting to me, but I continue to be surprised at the things she comes up with at her age.

One day, she was reading to me and read a word that had "ai" in it.  She then felt the need to expound:

LSB: I know the A-I phonogram.  It says A.
Me:  Did you just say phonogram?

Another day, rather out of the blue:

LSB:  Trilingual.
Me:  You mean like L- in your class?  Because he speaks English, Spanish and German?
LSB:  Yes.  I'm....bilingual.
Me:  Yes, you are.  You speak English and Spanish.
LSB:  I'm a little bit trilingual because L- taught me some aleman.  I know tannenbaum and shmooshtia (note from me:  I have no idea how to spell the latter - she says it means "teddy bear").
Me:  Yes, a little bit.

Today, also out of the blue:

LSB:  Kangaroo has three.
Me:  What do you mean?  Who's Kangaroo?
LSB:  No; kangaroo has three.  I forgot the word.  Kang-a-roo (clapping three times).
Me:  Syllables?
LSB:  Yes.  Syllables.  Cookie has two.

As entrancing as I find all of this, I have to wonder what will become of my sensitive, cerebral child in the post-climate change future.  Her other main topic of contemplation (if you don't count television) is theology and we belong to a religious community that does not do "hireling priests".  I have real doubts about the future of employment for linguists and theology professors in the future we are headed to.  My eldest also seems most suited to a career as a college professor or as a policy analyst in a think tank, but I fear there will be no place for useless intellectuals like ourselves in the future they will face.  Perhaps we should be pushing them towards training in agriculture?  Midwifery?  It's so hard to know whether to encourage them to embrace their gifts or train for survival in a harsher world.



My eighth-grader did better than 99% of high school sophomores on the critical reading section of the PSATs.  She's had a lot of practice reading, that one(:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

May Joy and Peace and Love be yours this holiday season and always! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Really Important Innovation In History

The Lone Star Girl did her National History Day Project on contraception (this year's theme was innovations in history).  Needless to say, the judges did not send it on to the next step of the middle school competition.  It was great, though:  an extensive time line spanning from the book of Genesis to the development of emergency contraception in 2002, an informatively classified display of examples (with a border of condom packets), and a display of important people in the development of various methods, including Charles Goodyear, who apparently had more important things on his mind than just tires - who knew? All while staying within a 500-word limit!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Demographer Girl

My primary sheroes are the indomitable women of Hull House - Jane Addams and her comadres who founded the social work profession.  They spent much time wandering around the poor neighborhoods of Chicago, just gathering demographic information about the people who lived there - something few others had cared to do.  Yesterday, my Girl was worthy of them.

The Lone Star Girl and her little partner are doing their science project on (loosely) whether people living within two miles of our local refineries have more health problmes than people living over 15 miles away from them.  The LSG's little partner lives way away from the refineries so she did that part of the experiment, taking their survey to folks in her neighborhood.  I took the LSG to the north side of town near the refineres, though, and she wandered around senior centers and churches and daycare centers with her surveys, even after her science teacher had told her it wouldn't be safe for her to be going around talking to people in that neighborhood.  She did great. (Didn't much help her asthma, though - you really can tell you are close to the refineries.)

First Day School: Christmas

Since we only meet twice each month, on our first Meeting in December, I went over all four Advent lessons with the Lone Star Baby instead of doing them one at a time.  It worked well.  She likes the idea of the Prophets pointing the way to Bethlehem.  She was rather struck by the idea of Bethlehem in general, I think.  In her work time, she ignored most of the materials I had set out and took out paper and markers and drew Bethlehem using the wooden city from the lesson as a model. 

This past Sunday, we did a lesson the mystery of Christmas using materials taken from Madeleine L'Engle's The Glorious Impossible. It was very nice.  The church where we meet had apparently had a pageant and they had a rather wonderful home-made creche set still up on the labyrinth (no figures, just the set) so we visited it.  The Lone Star Baby took a baby doll from the Sunday School room and pretended to be Mary with Baby Jesus.  I got to be Joseph.  I also got to be Simeon at the Temple.  After the Magi came to visit, we fled to Egypt down the hall.  Mary was very firm that we should not return to Nazareth until it was safe.

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Day School: New Beginnings

Not quite two years ago, some Catholic friends happened to be talking about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd around me and I asked a lot of questions and found out that it was a Montessori-based form of religious education that some Catholics use and that has been adapted for use for some other faiths as well.  Being a Montessori mom and our Meeting's First Day School teacher, I was pretty excited.  I read some books and a training manual and got thinking about how I could adapt it for our First Day School. 

For a long time, the Lone Star Girl was the only Quaker child in town.  I started doing a sort of home First Day School with her when she was about three and tried to get her to the Austin Meeting every now and then so that she could see that there were other Quaker children in the world.  When she was six years old, a nine-year-old girl walked into Meeting one day with her parents and a whole other chapter of our lives started.  The girls had First Day School together after that and we sort of muddled through.  We learned about the testimonies and Quaker history and read many novels that illustrated both, but I found that the girls were truly the leaders and rather resistant to my planning any sort of curriculum for a long time.  They did pretty well on their own, though.  They instigated a project that resulted (with much help) in a peace quilt that travels around South Central Yearly Meeting now and starting a couple of years ago, they began a study of world religions, which I think is an excellent course of study for teens in their religious education, all adolescents being seekers as they are. 

When the Lone Star Baby was nearing three, a new family joined our Meeting, with a daughter her age.  We decided to start thinking about First Day School for them when they were both three.  By that time, our new child had a baby brother and a family with a six-year-old and a nine-year-old came to a few Meetings.  I decided I needed to get this First Day School thing in gear!  

I brought the idea of a modified-for-Quakers Montessori-based curriculum to a Meeting for Business and the Meeting was happy with that so I started making materials.  I made the Good Shepherd and added His sheep.  I made a little Quaker meeting with clothespin people to represent the adult and children and a little dove to represent the Holy Spirit.  As Christmas approached last year, I made a clothespin Angel and Mary with another little dove for the Annunciation.  By that time, the newest family with the school-aged kids wasn't attending anymore to my dismay, but I had two sort of "classes" - the two big girls who met before Meeting and the two little girls who met during and who were still pretty wild and used to playing rather than settling down for First Day School. 

Last summer, both of the other Quaker families with children in our Meeting moved out of state.  

I was pretty devastated as were my girls.  We miss them terribly.  Now my kids are the only Quaker kids  in town again.  There was one new family with three kids who came a couple of times but they live in Kingsville and found that just too far to drive.

The only good thing to come out of the move is that, now that we couldn't meet at our clerk's house anymore since he moved, we started meeting at a church where our new clerk works. It has a Sunday School room that is fully stocked with Godly Play materials that we may use.  Godly Play, as it turns out, grew out of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.  In fact, as it turns out, there are already a tiny bit of Quaker adapted materials out there known as Faith "N' Play.  Not all of the Godly Play materials can be adapted to our First Day School needs (as some involve liturgy and sacraments) but many, many of them can and I have been able to adapt them for our use while maintaining the wonderful Montessori-based nature of the materials.  It has really been wonderful.  The Lone Star Baby connects deeply to wonder-based nature of the work and has become very spiritual.

Right now, my "Little Friends and Lower Elementary" class (which consists currently of just the Lone Star Baby) is focusing on the Quaker belief that the Light of God is within everyone.  We are using the materials on the life of Christ - and mainly the parables - to study this at the moment which should continue through this school year at least.  The parable materials are really amazing.  We will use the Old Testament materials in the same way eventually and will cover the testimonies next year.  

My "Young Friends and Junior Young Friends" (middle and high school) class (which currently consists of just the Lone Star Girl) is still studying world religions.  When our other teen was still here, they studied Hinduism, Jainism, Wicca and other earth-based Goddess religions, Judaism, and Islam.  Since we've been on our own, I finally got a copy of the UU Neighboring Faiths curriculum that I had been wanting to use (the original idea for this course of study had been that I would just send the teens to the UU classes since they are experts at this, but they weren't doing this curriculum at the time) and I am trying to organize much of the rest of this course of study using their format.  We are into the various sects and denominations of Christianity now and have studied the high-ritual end with Catholicism, Episcopalians and Eastern Orthodox.  Now we are working on the "Holy Book" oriented groups like Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists and some Baptist groups.

If you are in Corpus and would like to send your kids to our First Day School, the big kid(s) meet at 1pm on first and third Sundays and the little kid(s) meet during Meeting at 2pm on first and third Sundays at All Saints Episcopal Church.  We'd love to grow our First Day School again!

Double Vision

Ourselves we are having a very nice holiday together, but I am deeply worried about an illness in a close family member in another city these last few days, worried in the sort of way that permeates everything you do and makes every other thought into a prayer.  It is an odd feeling to be happy and peaceful about our own Christmas together and at the same time scared and pleading in a place in my mind that I am trying not to share with the children.  Both feelings seem equally real.  Please hold my loved one in the Light.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jesus Was An Illegal Immigrant

Remember when his family fled to Egypt to escape persecution?  Yep.  I'm just saying.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Right-Wing U.S. Fundamentalists Did This

Uganda is passing a law that basically will separate people who are gay from society altogether, imprisoning (and sometimes killing) them in most instances.  Anyone who speaks out against it is considered to be in violation of it.  Homosexuality has been technically illegal in Uganda for centuries, which is bad enough, but the current climate of hatred and dangerous intolerance can be linked to the heavy involvement of American right-wing fundamentalists in Uganda.  Groups like The Family, who make a mockery of the teachings of Christ.  The Family have some warped "strength" interpretation of the Gospels which makes them very excited about fascist regimes in Africa.  They are all over Uganda, and include a disturbing number of Senators who have used U.S. tax dollars to fulfill their quasi-religious agenda of propping up military dictators. It is unacceptable that the American "Religious" Right is so actively engaged in activities that result in the loss of human rights for people not just here, but all over the world.  The lack of separation of Church and State is unacceptable.  The perversion of Christ's teachings is unacceptable.  

There has long been tension in the Religious Society of Friends because many Quakers in my branch of the faith (loosely affiliated into the Friends General Conference) do not want to belong to organizations or share funds with groups that are intolerant of people who are gay.  The Friends United Meeting includes Meetings that are intolerant of people who are gay and let's not even talk about the yet more conservative gatherings of Friends.  F.U.M. has done a lot of life-saving relief work in poor regions of Africa so many Friends feel torn, wanting to help people who need help but not wanting to mingle funds with a group that has intolerant policies.  Also, many "convergent" Friends want the various branches of Quakerism to find unity and all be one group together as we have not been since way back in the days before Elias Hicks and our big split.  

My feelings on this have become clear.

I don't want F.U.M. or any so-called religious group with intolerance in their hearts in Uganda.  I don't want this hatred to spread.  I don't want anything to do with branches of the Religious Society of Friends who would be part of denying human rights to our gay brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am not interested in convergence.  Sometimes getting along is not worth it.  There is too much at stake. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Very Daisy Christmas

I am so bursting with pride for my little Daisy Girl Scout Troop!  We took them Christmas caroling at a nursing home tonight and they were wonderful!  Just wonderful!  We had sort of planned for standing in the dining hall and singing but the timing was off and lots of the people living at the nursing home were in their rooms and hallways already so they asked if we could walk up and down the halls singing.  We had only practiced 5 songs, but those little Daisy Girl Scouts sang them over and over and over again, walking up and down all the halls and handing out the ornaments they had made to the people we passed.  They darted into rooms and gave people ornaments, singing all the while and shaking the maracas that our wonderful Cookie Mom brought along. 

They were so brave!  When I used to take the Lone Star Girl's Brownie Troop caroling at this nursing home, they were really scared at first, but these little Daisy Girl Scouts were courageous from the get-go.  They were so happy to freely give their songs and smiles and little presents.  I am so proud of them!!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And More Flu Dodging

On Monday while driving to school, I saw a sign outside a Walgreen's that said something about H1N1 vaccines.  I called the Walgreen's as soon as I could before classes started and asked about it and they said they would be vaccinating until 7pm that night.  I e-mailed Lone Star Pa and said I'd be home to take over with the kids in time for him to go between 6pm and 7pm.   He got his vaccine, so now the whole family is vaccinated.  Yay!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

She's A Mean Little Orphan

The Lone Star Girl has been cast as Pepper in her school's upcoming production of Annie.  (Sort of makes you wonder how tall the kids playing adults must be...)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Angel For The Tree

I bought this craft kit to make an angel tree topper from Chinaberry quite a few years ago, possibly before the Lone Star Baby was born, but we never seemed to get to it.  This year, we did.  It was really a great project for them because there were parts that were just hard enough for each of them.  And now ... we have a lovely, daughter-made angel  on top of our tree!

The Girl With Silver Hair

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More Girl Scout Love

Both my troops, the Daisies and the Cadettes, have made collection boxes for toothbrushes, combs and deodorant and set them out at their schools.  They are organizing collection drives at their schools for the Mother Theresa shelter, a local day shelter that provides a place for people who are homeless to go in the day-time where they can do laundry, etc.  I am so proud of the girls, out trying to do a good turn daily, as the Girl Scouts say.  One of the Lone Star Girl's teachers has been really helpful in spreading the word, and the Lone Star Baby is so excited whenever she takes combs or toothbrushes or deodorant to school to put in the box.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Through Dangers Untold And Hardships Unnumbered....

I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the goblin city to tutor children after school and attend a Girl Scout Service Unit meeting and search unsuccessfully for a reasonably priced microwave at Target (because ours died last night and if we need any sort of gadget, that's definitely the one) and so move on to H-E-B Plus where I found one and did eons of grocery shopping and finally journeyed home to nearly sleeping children and an ungrateful man.  (Why do we keep men around anyway?  Oh, yes - I remember:  to kill roaches.  That is important.  Roaches are the spawn of hell.)

Fortunately, my grandmotherly person had just sent me a check for Christmas and that paid for the microwave.  How many of the thousands of things that I still need to do during this waning week will I take on tonight?  Just making lunches and bathing, I think.  And I may skip bathing.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Stalker In Red

The Lone Star Girl was waxing angry the other day about the new computer access that parents now have to lesson plans and student grades in our district.  The funniest little conversation ensued:

LSG (hissing at me):  Stalker.

LSB:  What's a stalker?

Me:  Um, someone who is always watching you.

LSB:  Like Santa?

St. Nicholas Day

Happy St. Nicholas Day!  Last night, the girls each put a shoe out under the Christmas tree before going to bed and St. Nicholas came and left them each a small surprise in the night.  The Lone Star Girl found a gift card to the mall in her shoe this morning and the Lone Star Baby found a secret message decoder pen in her shoe.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Harbor Lights

My mom is in town for a visit (staying at my sister's) and we all went to the Harbor Lights festival tonight.  It was really fun despite the fact that we were freezing.  The Lone Star Baby was uncharacteristially disinterested in the children's area and bouncy toys - at first she just wanted to home because she was cold, I think.  I got her a light stick and some cotton candy and she started to get happy, though.  We listened to a local musician, Jennifer Pena, until Santa appeared inn his special motorcade.  Then there was a laser light show before the lighting of the big Christmas tree.  We watched the illuminated boat parade from the sea wall.  It was nice ... but cold.

Friday, December 04, 2009


The Lone Star Baby says we do "activities" in winter.  I think this word is an unconscious conglomeration of "Advent" and "Nativity".  She means the new magnetic advent calendar and the regular Advent Calendar where we read the little books every night and hang them on a little Advent tree and moving the Magi and stuff.  She's so sweet.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

We decorated on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Our tree is up and decorated with all the girls' dear creations and our little Nativity sets are up.  Our winter books are out.  Advent starts tomorrow and our Advent calendars and wreath are ready.  The little plastic Magi are in the hall, ready to begin their journey to Bethlehem.


Thanksgiving Tradition: Our Animal Friends In Winter

I sort of treat Thanksgiving as the beginning of winter.  We don't have the sort of winters that many folks have.  It rarely freezes and we are bitterly cold when it's in the fifties.  Our only real Thanksgiving tradition that we came up with ourselves is to start trying to take care of the animals that live outside as it gets cold.  This year we made popcorn and cranberry chains that we hung on a tree for the birds and scattered lots of old bread in the yard.  It was fun watching the birds come to eat.  We've got some birdseed and pine cones and are planning to make pine cone bird feeders soon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Cards

I'm so proud of myself.  I actually got a batch of Christmas cards in the mail today.  I haven't been very good at cards in recent years.  I got some out last year, but not many, and didn't even try for a few years before that.  We like exchanging cards very much but I often get overwhelmed with all that I have to do, so I am happy that I pulled it off this year.  It wasn't a big batch as I have lost lots of addresses in the intervening years and people have moved, but it was a start!  I'll send more as I get more addresses. 

We have a card wreath that we put on our wall to display Christmas cards as we get them.  The girls also use old Christmas cards from previous years in crafts, and I love hearing from people from all the different seasons of our lives, so I think Christmas cards are a nice tradition, when I can manage it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TCEQ Shore Loves That Voluntary Compliance

Forrest Wilder's latest blog post at the Texas Observer informs us that the TCEQ is actually showing some - gasp!- concern over pollution. Sadly, they don't plan to do anything about it.  Still, I wish we had a mayor who cared about the health of the citizens in his town more than he cared about the ka-ching of polluters' dollars the way the mayor in that town does.  Pity we don't.

November YA Pick

November's Ya/Upper El Pick is, of course, Confetti Girl, by Diana Lopez.  The "of course" is because it takes place in Lone Star Ma's home town of Corpus Christi, Texas, with many delightful references to local schools and landmarks, and because the main character, Apolonia "Lina" Flores, attends Baker Middle School, where the Lone Star Girl goes to school.  Kind of exciting.

This is the sweet story of a middle schooler who loves socks, volleyball and science and who struggles with the loss of her mother and the way that grief has stolen her weird English teacher father, and with the typical challenges of friendships when boys start to be relevant.  It's got cascarones in it ... need I say more? 

The Lone Star Girl's Baker friends say that this story is not an accurate portrayal of life at Baker Middle School.  They mean that it is too sweet and innocent and does not involve enough (or any) profanity.  That's what endears it to adults, I expect, and what makes it an appropriate read for the upper elementary set as well as teens, but I know what they mean.  It's still a very nice book, though.  The sweetness of it reminds me a little bit of The Tequila Worm by  Viola Canales, but it is younger and less serious.  I highly recommend this book, not just if you live in Corpus Christi, but especially if you do.

Yet More Flu Dodgng

There was an H1N1 vaccination clinic at Sunrise Mall yesterday.  I got the girls up early and we got there before it opened but the line was already very long.  Fortunately, it moved quickly.  They confirmed for me that kids over ten years of age do not need a second dose, so the Lone Star Girl didn't need one.  The Lone Star Baby got her second dose (sigh of relief) and much to my surprise and contrary to what they said on the health department's website, they were basically giving them to anyone, not just priority groups, so I went ahead and got mine as well.   I then made a lot of phone calls to family and friends so they would know that they could get theirs, too.  Lone Star Pa's district did not get out until today, so he was at work.  We left messages on his cell and e-mail to go straight after work before they closed at 5, but he didn't.  So...three down, one to go.  I'm so happy that the girls are vaccinated.  It's no guarantee, of course, but I feel that I have done everything I reasonably can and that is a great relief to my over-weaning sense of maternal responsibility.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cellaress At Thanksgiving

I have a new poem up in the Today's Words section at Vox Poetica.  Tomorrow it will be on the poemblog there.  Please read it!

Monday, November 23, 2009

November Preschool/Primary Pick: Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that is fraught with mixed feelings.  I winced at storytime recently when our dear librarian read a whitewashed story about the nice pilgrims and their friend Squanto and the other dear "indians".  We struggle not to reinforce stereotypes while also not giving little kids more horrors to think about than they should have to handle.  And I do think a day of gratitude is a very good idea indeed, so we try to make our own traditions - caring for animals and enjoying fellowship and gratitude (without the connection to the murderous white settlers who colonized this land and left us with no very good way to atone for the sins they left simmering in our DNA).

My preschool/primary pick for November fits well into our family's Thanksgiving tradition of trying to care for animals as winter comes - Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey.  This funny little picture book tells the story of a class of schoolchildren who visit a turkey farm, make friends with the turkeys and then discover the turkey farmer's terrible secret.  They manage to sneak the turkeys away for safe Thanksgivings in their homes where they can be dinner guests and not dinner  served.  It is funny and sweet and pefect for vegetarian children.  I highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Service, Soccer Parties and Storms

On Friday evening, I got home and canceled the Daisy meeting because our yard and the sides of the street were all flooded from the rather impressive amount of rain we are suddenly getting (I think the drought's over).  There was a message on the answering machine from the league lady that Saturday's soccer game was canceled because the field was all flooded.  Saturday's game was to be the last of the season and we were going to have a soccer party a bit after it at noon at the playground located in the now-flooded fields.  Lone Star Pa started making calls to let the team know the game was canceled and to try to re-schedule the party but one parent said we should just have the party at the same time at her house so we planned on that.  

Early Saturday morning, we met the Daisy Girl Scouts at the local Food Bank to unload the canned goods their school had collected (one can for each lap they completed in their trike-a-thon - they collected over 400 pounds of food!) and learn a little bit about the Food Bank.   I just love seeing these tiny kids get so involved in community service.  

After the Food Bank, we ate breakfast and hurried home to do a few things and headed out again to the soccer party.  The parents who volunteered their house live really close to us, in our same neighborhood, but remarkably were not flooded - I think ours is the second lowest street in the neighborhood and floods more than the others but one. The party was very nice.  The kids got trophies and metals and played and ate.  One of the moms made a very impressive cookie cake decorated with a soccer ball and flames for the team's name - the volcanoes.  It was fun.

We ran some errands in the afternoon - to the pet store to get guinea pig bedding, to Rainbow Books, and to the library so the Lone Star Girl could strategically check on the silent auction items she had bid on at the library's book sale and silent auction minutes before it ended.  At the pet store, the girls fell in love with a kitten and I had to be a very hard-hearted mommy and refuse them, even when they came up with the cutest little debate points and clung to the bars of the cage (okay - these things were mainly only cute when the LSB did them).   We drove around a demolition site next to the library and looked at everything.  I wanted to get the grocery shopping out of the way but the sky started to look scary again so we went home and made chalupas instead.   A good day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Anarchist Author Girl

Reading a story that the LSG wrote for English class today, I noticed a misspelling and asked her (with all the cheesiness that I guess means I deserve her snark) if she knew how to remember how to spell "principal" as in the principal in a school like in her story.  

She lucidly replied "Oh, yes, that's right - it's with an "a" because he's an antagonist".

My Prayer To the EPA: Save Us

The contested case hearing over the Las Brisas permit concluded last week and now everyone has to wait and see what the judges recommend and what the TCEQ does.  There is a good article by Forrest Wilder in the recent issue of the Texas Observer about the coal issue in Texas called The Coal Star State - I highly recommend reading it.  His blog is good, too. Note what he says about the water.

The EPA is taking measures to rein in the TCEQ's egregious permitting of polluters and to improve its own standards -  I pray these measures come in time for us.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Princess Bun Girls

Or horny-do girls, as I prefer to say, except that it makes them mad...


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Middle School Speech Tournament

Yesterday was our school district's  Middle School Speech Tournament.  The Lone Star Girl entered in group improvisation, duet acting and impromptu speaking.  She was heartbroken not to advance to semi-finals in group improv., as she considers that very much her thing, but the judge's written critique was complimentary - it was just a very competitive round.  She got to semi-finals with her partner in duet acting with a scene from Antigone.  They hadn't had much time to practice and I was kind of surprised they made it that far.  But impromptu speaking!  Wow! She was amazing!  She really rocked the impromptu speaking category, which is really a hard category.  You draw three topics, then have to choose one.  You then get three minutes to prepare a speech on the topic and then deliver it.   She was very obviously the best in the finals, although a few of the kids were quite good.  She won first place!  I'm proud of my drama girl!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Party's Winding Down

The Lone Star Girl's birthday party started at 2pm today but it isn't quite over yet, although the ewoks are singing so an end is near.  They have been watching the three original Star Wars movies while snacking on cupcakes, popcorn and carmel apples.  The highlight of the party was definitely when the wonderful, wonderful Irene of YinYang Fandango catered a truly amazing number of crepes from our kitchen table for over an hour - delicious and fascinating! The kids loved it and so did I - I ate way too many. 

The kids are great and I think they had fun.  Yay!

Planting The Seeds of Community Service

Our Daisy Girl Scout troop's participation in this year's Project Undercover was so wonderful.  Project Undercover is a community service project that our Girl Scout Council sponsors every year in October to collect diapers, underwear, socks, etc. for children in the care of Child Protective Services.  This sort of thing is what I like best about Girl Scouting.  Please read my article in We the People News about planting the seeds of community service. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

More Flu-Dodging

After days (nay -weeks) of fruitless phone calls, I finally scored an H1N1 vaccination for the allergy-ridden and asthmatic Lone Star Girl this evening (they have them at the clinic by Hooters, people).  Injectible even.  I do rock.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

V is For Voting (And Aliens)

I voted today between leaving school and getting to soccer practice which now is thirty minutes earlier (and which is shorter) because of the time change and the early dark.  Usually, I don't wait until election day, but vote early to avoid this sort of risky time crunch.  These constitutional amendments sort of sneaked up on me, though.  But I got it done.

Then, tonight, the Lone Star Girl and I had a V watching party!  On a school night!  And we had junk food!  And Jazz watched it with us.  (And I went to high school with that actress!) It was great.  I remember watching the original V miniseries as a middle-schooler, and then the other one, and then the TV show, and I read some V books while riding in a car that my dad was driving to Refugio for some sort of oil thing...I was really into it.  

Love My Kid

The Lone Star Girl trick-or-treated for UNICEF again this year.  She rocks  a lot.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Contested Hearings

Today the contested permit hearings on the TCEQ's permitting of Las Brisas began.  Many folks in our community are spending the next couple of weeks fighting for our lives in those hearings.  I have to go to work, but I am with them in spirit.  Pray that the TCEQ comes to their senses and does not allow our children to be sickened by this horrible coal-burning pet-coke plant.


The Lone Star Baby this morning as she dances around, shaking her "booty-butt" at us and acting like a wild animal:

"I had four pieces of candy yesterday;  that chocolate, and another of those chocolates and a different chocolate and another chocolate and I had cake."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Environmental Reader

When the Lone Star Girl was in kindergarten, her teacher liked to talk a lot about "environmental reading".  She meant stuff like recognizing the logo of certain golden-arched colonialist establishments and things of that nature when out and about.  She was disturbed that the Montessori-preschooled LSG's immediate label for a letter was its sound rather than it's name (but she can read, I'd say).  I was a little underwhelmed by the teacher's enthusiasm for "environmental reading" as the Lone Star Girl entered kindergarten reading at around second-grade level and left kindergarten reading at "right where she should be for the end of kindergarten".  I mean, that's a fine place to be at the end of kindergarten, of course - right where you should be - but not if you went backwards to get there.  Fortunately, by the end of first grade, she had discovered those saccharine Magic Treehouse books and she was hooked on reading again.

I am seeing a whole different kind of "environmental reading" with the Lone Star Baby and I love this kind.  Suddenly, over the past few weeks, she has started reading everything she sees around her - signs, labels, every piece of writing in her path.  She read "a world of opportunity" on a sign at the credit union the other day.  She took the (Spanish!) storybook her teacher was reading and finished reading it for the class on another day last week when her teacher had to take care of something.  I see her little finger tracing words and hear her voice sounding them out everywhere we are.  It's so exciting!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No Opting Out, Please!

Today, the news has been saying that the Big Controversial Public Option that Senator Reid has boldly included in the merged heath care reform bill...allows states to opt out.  

Great.  Just great.

Our governor is what we here in South Texas like to call batsh*t-crazy and often suggests that Texas just may secede from the Union (can you say "treason"?) to avoid federal laws, so...that's just going to be great for us here in the Lone Star State, I bet. 

Did I mention that we have more uninsured people in Texas than in any other state in the Union?

Pitcher Plant

We've been plagued by flies and mosquitos lately.  This weekend at the store, I saw a little display of carnivorous plants.  There were, alas, no venus flytraps, which look the coolest, but I got a pitcher plant for the Lone Star Baby and brought it home.  She is watching it closely.

Long Day

Our school was without lights from around 12:15 through the end of the school day yesterday in the storms - and there are not a lot of windows in the floor plan. It was dark.  Exciting stuff.

Then last night we had our first Cadette Girl Scout field trip of the year - to dinner at a restaurant and to a bookstore.  Their choice for their rededication "ceremony".  It was fun.  I kept hounding them  to "stay with their buddy" and I asked them if they needed first aid in the bookstore (just to be silly).  Not exactly camping, but fun and they did get some practice managing their troop money.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sewing Machine!

I finished paying for the sewing machine that the Lone Star Girl is getting for her birthday this weekend!  I've had it on layaway since the summer - my first experience with layaway.  I'm so excited!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Horrors

Know what's really scary in Corpus Christi this October?  The prospect of Las Brisas being built on our port.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Seed Science

The Lone Star Baby and I spent some time outside looking at butterflies and collecting rain tree seed pods and such early this evening.  It seems to be the time of year for butterflies and moths around here - even the mariposas monarchas, as the LSB says, which are migrating through today.  We ended up on our porch steps picking apart seed pods from our young mimosa tree and looking at the seeds.  Some seeds had holes in them and the Lone Star Baby was sorting the seeds into piles depending on whether or not they had holes in them.  Picking apart one seed pod, I found our likely culprit - a patch of webbing and a tiny spider inside one pod.  We determined that the spider was making the holes in the seeds, either eating through them or laying eggs in them.  The Lone Star Baby then hypothesized that the seed pods with holes in them were the ones that would contain seeds with holes in them.  She then opened only seed pods with no holes in them and, sure enough, the seeds inside were all whole.  Ah, learning.


Our days have been crazy-busy lately.  Today looks especially packed:
  • Dropping the Lone Star Girl off at a sewing lesson (thank heavens Jazz is picking her up for me)
  • Soccer game at 10am
  • Drive-through H1N1 vaccine for Lone Star Baby at Health Dept. after soccer and before 1pm
  • Daisy Girl Scout pumpkin patch field trip (first Daisy field trip!) at 2pm
  • Taking Project Undercover donations to Child Protective Services at 4pm
And the girls somehow have to eat lunch before the field trip.  And there's probably something wrong with my car ...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pet Cemetary

There's a new little concrete slab next to the old one that marks the final resting place of erstwhile hermit crabs Io and Titan.  This one marks the resting place of the two mice Psyche and Iris, who the LSG found dead in their cage a short while ago today (Iris mostly eaten - yuck).  The Lone Star Girl is sad.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lone Star Baby Day

I sort of avoided the Lone Star Baby as much as I could this past week, because I was sick with what seemed to be a miserable cold (no fever), but ... you never know these days, right?  One worries.  So much of her care was given over to Lone Star Pa as I kept my distance.  I missed her.

I felt significantly better by Thursday and was ready to consider myself well on Friday, so we had our lovely Daisy Girl Scout meeting.  Then, today was very much a Lone Star Baby day.   She had the first part of the Athena test (the Naglieri part) this morning at 8am so we were up and out early.  That went well and we came home and got ready for soccer.  We had team pictures at 11 today and a game at 12.  The Lone Star Girl and I went out for lunch after soccer while she went home with LSP for a bit but then the Lone Star Baby and I went to see Where The Wild Things Are ( the LSG had a movie of her own to see with friends who came over afterward).  After the movie, we came home and made pomanders and painted little pumpkins.  Then she ate dinner and we tried to play some Sleeping Queens but she was in a rather too silly mood for much of that.  Then it was bedtime and Charlotte's Web.  

Doesn't exactly make up for a week, but it was nice.  I still owe her a raspa tomorrow, too, either before or after First Day School.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Little Reader

This morning, the Lone Star Baby saw a sign I had prepared for the Daisy GS meeting tonight and I heard her sounding it out and then.... she read the words "Project Undercover"!  I was really surprised to hear her reading such big words.  I'm so proud of her!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Social Studies TEKS Revisions

Have I mentioned that the State Board of Education thinks that our schoolchildren do not get enough about dead white guys in the social studies curriculum?  I mean, there are a few, like, women and minorities in the TEKS and do you know there is not even a mention of Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh?  I know... shocking. 

I kid you not, people.  The SBOE really seems to think that way.  Because apparently teaching the kids even more about dead white guys is really going to get them excited about being citizens and learning and stuff.  Forget about Cesar Chavez ... they'll relate to Rush.  Right....

This topic is going to take a whole article.  Look for it soon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Red Tide

Blech.  Algal blooms sounds so nice...

October Preschool/Primary Pick: One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin

This month's pick for the picture book set is Kathryn Lasky's One Beetle Too Many:  the extraordinary adventures of Charles Darwin.  This book, filled with charming illustrations, gives a much-simplified, but still extremely long and detailed, overview of Mr. Darwin's life from his youth as a messy little born naturalist to his old age, still messing around with bugs and barnacles.  The book does not shy from controversy, even as it simplifies.  It is an inspring story for the little naturalist in your life.

Monday, October 12, 2009


The Lone Star Baby's school had a half-day on Friday, so Lone Star Pa took the day off so he could pick her up at 11:30, and he spent the morning while she was at school at the health department, registering her to get one of the first 500 doses of H1N1 vaccine that are expected to be available there soon for kids aged 2-5 who are not in the public schools.  We have all had our regular flu shots already.  Lone Star Pa showed up an hour early and there were already quite a few people there, he said.  He got her registered, though, and they are supposed to call us to tell us when to come in.  Schoolchildren and staff are supposed to be vaccinated in the schools, but we don't know when.  I hope it's soon.  So many people are sick already.  I have a "cold" that I hope (as I pack everyone's lunches) is just a cold - no fever, so that's promising.  Actually, I still suspect that the LSG and I may have had the swine flu last spring when we had that terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-month-long illness, and we didn't have fever then either.  Who knows? 

I also hope that the schools will have a non-live injection version of the vaccine as well as the mist kind.  It is my understanding that the attenuated mist is not good for people with asthma like the Lone Star Girl, although it is more effective.

Someone apparently recognized Lone Star Pa on Friday from his days as a production guy in local news, because the news channel he used to work for back in the day called him and they are in our yard interviewing him about the vaccine now.  Interesting. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pumpkin Patch!

The Lone Star Girl says this one needs someone to love it:


Pumpkin sisters:

This one!

 Gourd Baby!

So tiny!

Beautiful pumpkin girl:

Pumpkin wagon:

Home again:


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Apple Doll

The Lone Star Baby and I finished the apple doll (dried and carved apple face, craft sticks, yarn, felt, stickers) for our nature table. It was fun.

Monday, October 05, 2009


We are finally getting some rainy days around here. I am afraid we have fallen predictably behind on checking our rain gauge and only remember sometimes, but it is still fun!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Daisy Girl Scouts

We had the first meeting of our Daisy Girl Scout troop on Friday evening. Those little Daisy Girl Scouts are so much fun! (And our Cadette Girl Scout helped, with a friend from her troop.)

Texas Familes Go Hungry But Texas May Lose Food Stamp Program Due To Inadequate Staffing

Texas has the highest rate of hungry children in the U.S., but one third of Texas families who apply for food stamps do not receive their benefits on time. Errors in processing are seen in 1 out of 6 applications, according to Texans CARE For Children. The Health and Human Services Commission simply cannot keep up with the state's need for food stamps during this economic downturn. The Health and Human Services Commission has requested 650 more staff members across the state to meet the need for services by our state's impoverished families but the Legislative Budget Board says no. Even though the feds say that Texas may lose its food stamp program if the delays and errors in the application process are not corrected.

Please contact Governor Perry's office at (512) 463-2000 and ask him to approve the staffing request and to have the Health and Human Services Commission change the eligibility period from six months to a year, to decrease the paperwork in this time of extreme need.

The hungry children of Texas need us to speak for them.

Zonas Polares

Out of the blue of her swirling little bright mind, the Lone Star Baby looked up at us today and said:

There are two zonas polares - the North Pole and the South Pole. And there is no land to really walk around on at the North Pole but there is land at the South Pole. Two zonas polares.

Indeed. I wonder that no kid has piped up about Santa yet during that lesson...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cloudy 38

There are some beautiful clouds flying across the moon and some planet (Jupiter? Saturn?) tonight.

Yesterday, I took the Lone Star Baby to see Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (the LSG already saw it with friends last weekend - presumably). It was nothing like the book but we still enjoyed the movie a lot. It was only the second movie she has seen in theaters and it was a little intense and scary for her towards the end (she's sensitive), but she says she still really enjoyed it. It was a fun outing.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Autumn is Here

September has just seemed like summer until this week, but now October is almost here. I am very proud that we actually managed to get our little box of autumn/Halloween decorations scattered about today. This year, I mostly just showed the girls the box, gave them some tape and said go. They got most of it done on their own, which was quite nice to experience. They even helped with the outside stuff.

We also started to set up a little nature table, something I've been meaning to do for a long time. I bought a little green metal table with a gift card that my MIL gave me and Lone Star Pa screwed it together and we set it in a sort of corner in the living room. I say a sort of corner because the corner is actually formed, not by the room, but by Lone Star Pa's jumble of living room clutter - boxes of videotapes, DVDs and various incomprehensible wires that I cannot convince him not to stretch across my could-be-pretty seafoam green walls. Decorating really seems like a silly past-time around here in a way since there is no hope that anything but the clutter and wires will really be noticed by visitors, but...we notice the decorating. The kids like it, and that matters, I think. The way it makes them happy makes me happy and I think that matters, too. So...I just set up the nature table right in front of the corner of clutter - maybe it will balance it out somehow.

More on what we are placing on the nature table later, but I think having it to add seasonal items to will help me feel less guilt about never getting around to doing as many nice, seasonal crafts and things as I wish to do with the kids. I do, however, have a plastic jack-o-lantern bucket full of orange and black construction paper strips and scraps at the ready. We'll get in a little bit of craftiness, I think.

And books! I got out the autumn books, too!

Happy Autumn!

Lone Star Ma

The Lone Star Baby is in that too-old-to-say-mama-or-mommy phase, but she isn't calling me Mom like her sister does and as I expected she would. She calls me Ma.

I love it.

Mayor Doesn't Want To Hear From Doctors

Someone I know stopped to talk to the Mayor after Mass today and asked him if the Council was going to listen to a presentation from local physicians on the health risks that Las Brisas would bring. He said no - they were just going to go with the process and see what happened at the contested TCEQ hearing. Since TCEQ has never (ever) not permitted any plant in Texas, regardless of how egregrious their violations, and since the mayor knows that, this basically means that the mayor also does not care what health problems Las Brisas will cause - he's not going to raise a hand against it, or even listen to balanced information.

Such leadership.

I would like to point out something to all these Council members with children and grandchildren - Council members who clearly have been very lucky thus far because they would never consider this if their own children had respiratory ailments:

You know my child with the asthma and the serious allergies who I am so worried about but who you do not care what happens to when Las Brisas comes? She did not have asthma and her allergies were no worse than the stuff that most everyone down here has when she was little. She was a very healthy little girl. There was no sign when she was small that when adolescence hit, she would develop these conditions. It just came out of the blue one day, hand in hand with puberty. It was a big shock and it has been a very difficult adjustment. And it could happen to your little children and grandchildren who live here and in surrounding areas, too. It could happen to anyone. They could wake up one morning with these or worse respiratory conditions and you would be responsible for allowing Las Brisas to be here and it would make them very sick. Your babies. You think about it. Do.

Mothers & Others Against Las Brisas Demonstration Time Change

Creeping up to 6:30pm until 7:30 pm, Sunday nights, SPID between Everhart and Staples - still chasing that daylight!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Banned Book Week!

There's a Banned Book Week event at Half-Price Books at 4pm today! Go listen to a reading of something that someone doesn't want you to be able to read. Just because you're subversive like that, you know?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Governor Hair Needs Some Perspective

Governor Hair....I mean, Governor Perry ... apparently came here for what is being called his "State of the State" address (I was busy working so we could afford health insurance and missed it). Word on the street is that he talked up the idea that Texas has been doing pretty well, y'all. He says we're in better shape than a bunch of the nation during these hard times.

Allow me to leave you with one small fact:
Texas leads the nation in the number of people without health insurance: over 25%.