Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lone Star Ma Says Write More Letters...

If you care about the health of our children and the future of our community, please write to the TCEQ Commissioners and ask them to deny TCEQ permit application #85013 (Las Brisas Energy Center).  Their addresses are below:

Buddy Garcia, Commissioner
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711-3087

Bryan W. Shaw, Ph.D., Chairman
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711-3087

Carlos Rubinstein, Commissioner
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711-3087.

Thanks!  xxoo

EPA Federalizes Permit for Flint Hills

The EPA is trying to protect us here in Corpus from the negligence of the TCEQ. Read about it in the Texas Observer here.  Everyone pray that the EPA will make sure we are protected from Las Brisas, too.  And while you are praying - write some letters:

Al Armendariz, PhD
Regional Administrator
EPA Region 6
1445 Ross Ave Suite 1200
Dallas, TX 75202.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Last Week of Kindergarten

All of these Kindergarten lasts are hitting me (even me, who works and doesn't really get to hang out at Kindergarten at all) ... last chance for hot lunch last Friday (and the offering wasn't one of the hot lunches she eats), last Monday to take the carpeta and the mochila back to school, last week of school.  We are so busy with our end-of-school-year-times-four-plus-two-Girl-Scout-troops-plus-other-stuff that it is easy to just rush towards summer, but I know that this is a special, once-in-a-lifetime sort of week.  The Lone Star Baby started at this school in January of 2006 at the age of eighteen months (after a year and a half of childcare at a church center).  She had been on the waiting list for her school, this school,  since before she was conceived.   I remember how she cried when I dropped her off but didn't want to leave when I picked her up in those early weeks.  I remember nursing her on a bench outside of the school after picking her up one evening of her first week there when she popped off the breast for a moment to point at her shoe and say "zapato".  Now she speaks and reads beautiful Spanish and English and has learned so many things and has loved so many people.  We are going to miss this school.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Texas Social Studies TEKS Revisions Nightmare

The SBOE  voted today and it sucked about as much as you imagine.  The Texas Freedom Network Insider provides much better coverage than I could so please read what they have to say about about it here. Many thanks to Mary Helen Berlanga and Mavis Knight for trying to keep the racism and fundamentalism out of our educational standards - you tried. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Portland City Council Votes To Support The Recommendations of The Administrative Law Judges

We spent this evening across the bridge in Portland, Lone Star Pa's home away from home, encouraging their City Council to be better than ours was.  They unanimously passed a resolution supporting the recommendations of the administrative law judges.  I hope the TCEQ listens to this community that would be right in the path of where the winds would blow most of the awful pollution that Las Brisas wants to generate.

High School

Although she got through the hoops to get put into the lottery (essays, application, interview), the computerized lottery process did not choose the Lone Star Girl for Collegiate High School, the school she really wanted to attend.  She was very sad.  It is probably the first thing she has wanted in this way that she has not been able to have.  It may have been the first thing she has wanted in this way. 

Then, she had to choose between the two wonderful options she had left.  She was already qualified for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Ray High School, it being a new extension of the GT program  she has been in since first grade and it is going to be a wonderful program.  She also was accepted into Moody's Health Sciences Academy, though, and it is also a wonderful program, especially since she wants to be a nurse-midwife.  All the while she had been hoping to go to Collegiate, she had said she would probably go with Ray if she did not get in, but when push came to shove, it was agonizing for her to choose.  

She has settled on the IB Program at Ray and I know she will do wonderfully there (how can you go wrong with a school whose team is the Texans and whose fight song is to the tune of The Yellow Rose of Texas?) .  From my perspective, three, then two great options was a great thing, but I know that at her tender age, it has been maddening to have to wait and choose, as she will always have to be doing about so many things from here on out.  

I am proud of my girl and I know this last chapter of her girlhood will be just as wonderful as she has always been.

High school!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Bliss That Is Errands With A Five-Year-Old

I took a half-day this afternoon to pick up the Lone Star Baby and take her to her "new school" for a little assessment of her academic skills for next year.  I had thought that I might have time to drop by the Girl Scout office to turn in a field trip registration and/or City Hall to register for summer swim league (Girl) and more swimming lessons (Baby) on my way to pick her up, as those places are on the way from work to her school and that sort of errand is really hard to squeeze in when you teach school, but my sub. was 45 minutes late so I was rushing to get the LSB to her appointment on time instead.  This turned out great, though, because we got to hit City Hall and the Girl Scout office together after her appointment and before picking her sister up from school.

Errands with a five-year-old can be a certain kind of transcendent joy.  

At City Hall, I registered the LSG for summer swim league but was told that we'd have to register the LSB for her lessons at Collier Pool next Tuesday between 4 and 7pm (at the Nat - arrgh!).  It would be easy to have been totally annoyed by her creeping around behind me in the Parks and Recreation office and sneaking into the hallway dangerously close to the third-story rail around the open center of the building, and I certainly did get annoyed, but there was also:

...her desire to experience the escalator over and over (only up) once she got over her initial fear....

...the elevator rides down in which she told me not to hold her hand because she liked that feeling when everything went UP, this child who screamed in terror at that feeling as a baby....

Taking the time to ride the escalator and the elevator with her was such a privilege.

Again, the pain of buckling her into and out of the car seat and squelching her desire to touch everything at the Girl Scout store could have easily overpowered the joy of the parking meter and the walk to and from the office on another day.  Instead, she proudly put the quarter in the parking meter and stepped on every sidewalk crack along the way while I made dramatic "ow!" noises.  It was beautiful.

How soon these simple magics will fade from our daily errands for her and so for me.  How hard it is to enjoy them every day even though I know how much they will be missed.  I am so glad we had them today.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Corpus Christi City Council Sells Out The Future of Our City

On Tuesday the Corpus Christi City Council voted to allow the City Manager to negotiate a water contract with Las Brisas, even though doctors, parents and teachers filled the Chambers begging them not to do it.  Doctors and scientists presented ample information on the health and environmental risks that such a plant would cause and the Council members blithely ignored them although, puzzlingly, some of these Council members claimed they were "going with science" - very strange. 

Mayor Adame (it really bugs me how the Mayor pretends to be Catholic and family-oriented while voting for things that will kill children), Ms. Adler and Mr. Scott were their usual devoid-of-moral-compasses selves, along with  Mr. Kieschnick, who was downright offensive about it, calling the doctors and scientists liars and making jokes about choking children - it was pretty horrifying.  

Mr. Scott refused to recuse himself from voting even though his wife did paid PR work for the firm.  Mr. Elizondo did recuse himself as he stands to make big money from this endeavor and, at the last minute, Mr. Chesney recused himself as well.  He was one of the votes we were counting on (in at least a temporary sense) but apparently found out just before the vote that the company that employs him had a contract with LBEC and so he had a conflict of interest.  Maybe.

The real disappointment was John Marez.   With two lovely small children, a social work job and a conscience but apparently no courage, he caved to the Chamber cabal's threats and voted for the water contract, after a rambling and pained speech full of justifications he obviously did not even believe himself.  I know he's not getting any sleep this week, right, John?  That happens when you sell out the health of little children.

Only Priscilla Leal and Nelda Martinez tried to protect the health of the children of this community and voted no to giving our precious water to this toxic waste incinerator.  Priscilla Leal has always taken very seriously her responsibility to the welfare of her constituents...and she has always been ridiculed for it.  She kept having to remind the Mayor that her light was on to make her comments because he was too rude to recognize her when she wished to speak.  Nelda Martinez has generally had a reputation for voting with whatever she thought was best for her political career, but she has found her spine this time and defied the monied interests of this community to protect the health of the children, elderly and vulnerable.  She's going to be our next Mayor if I have anything to do with it - and I will.

This vote was a big blow but it's not over.  The Council needs to study their history - oligarchies often have a nice run but they always eventually fall.  This one is coming down now.  We, the citizens of Corpus Christi, are going to do whatever we have to do to keep that plant out.  They picked the wrong city to mess with when they picked mine.

Friday, May 14, 2010


When I was the Lone Star Girl's age, I had a friend who would say "My head is like a sieve!" to describe her scatter-brained-ness.  I have found the phrase useful to describe my own state of mind on many occasions, but never so much so as recently.

I am really on overload.  

Things are falling right out of my head because there is No More Room.

All of the end-of-school festivities and requirements for my job, the girls' two schools, and my two Girl Scout troops, combined with necessary preparations for the fact that both girls will be starting new schools in the fall and numerous things must be gotten in order for that,  combined with fighting Las Brisas, regular things like teaching First Day School and packing lunches, etc. - - well....I'm kind of losing it.  Big time.  I'm starting to forget things I never would have forgotten before - wandering off without dropping off the lunchbox...stuff like that.

Today, when I was already planning about writing this post and then getting to bed early to try to rest my brain a little,  a huge other issue got added to the pile.  S-T-R-E-S-S.  I need some serious rest and replenishment but I have to look a few weeks out to see any real hope of that, because the near future is filled with multiple non-stop obligations.

I am so grateful that all of this exhausting bustle is for regular, growth-of-the-family stuff.  So glad we are all safe and well.  I am trying very hard to be mindful of our many blessings and to move with care through all these details, moment by beautiful, busy moment.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mama Knows Best - No Las Brisas!

The Mother's Day demonstration for clean air went well - it was well-attended, media came and all the people driving by were against Las Brisas.  I hope Council pays attention to what their constituents want rather than just what the Chamber cabal is being paid to want,  and votes NOT to allow the City Manager to negotiate a water contract with Las Brisas on Tuesday.  If you have not e-mailed them yet, please do so now - no water for Las Brisas!  Thank you.

First Day School: Anabaptists and The Great Pearl

Today the Lone Star Girl's "class" finished reading about the Mennonites, Amish and Brethren and the Lone Star Baby's lesson was the parable of the Great Pearl.  

We are almost finished with the parables in the Lone Star Baby's "class".  By June, we will start on Old Testament work but only some of the Old Testament stories in the Godly Play materials look suitable for adaptation to me - lots are just too violent.  There is a whole other book of Old Testament enrichment lessons about actual people that are much more suitable, but I would have to make a lot of materials.  I am thinking about just working with the few that I like that already have materials and then turning to the testimonies and some work utilizing elements of the Faith 'N' Play materials developed by Quakers for next year, which is what I had planned for after we finished working from the Old Testament, and saving the other Old Testament work for a little over a year from now but I haven't really decided yet.

I could totally make this a full time endeavor if I had the time to do so.  I wish I did.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Sweetest Day

I took Friday off of work to attend the Mother's Day program at the Lone Star Baby's school.  It may sound a little funny, but I had looked forward to this day all year.  There is nothing so sweet as these beautiful children at the Mother's Day program at her school and this is our last year there.  They make it a really special day.  Mothers and children dress up and when the mothers arrive, they wait in another room for the children.   Each child came to fetch his or her own mother, bringing them a pencil decorated with a flower and leading them into the classroom where each mother got her picture taken with her child and then was led by her child to her seat.  When all the mothers had been seated, the program began.  The children sang songs, played instruments, danced, recited poems - all for their mothers.  Then each child went and brought his or her mother a plate and ate with them.  At the end, each child brought his or her mother a hand-made gift.  It was so incredibly sweet.  I wasn't the only mother who spent  a lot of the time in tears.  I took the Lone Star Baby with me when the program was over and we had a quiet, pleasant afternoon together.  Lovely.

We picked the Lone Star Girl up after school and once Lone Star Pa got home to be with the Lone Star Baby, the Lone Star Girl got into her fancy dress and we went over to Jazz's apartment so Jazz's room-mate could help her with her hair and make-up.  Then it was off to the 8th grade "prom".  Since the dance was held at a huge convention center and all seemed a bit over the top to me, I went along (much to the Girl's chagrin) and volunteered helping out with the photos, which was actually a pretty big job - things were hopping.  I never saw the inside of the ballroom and didn't have even a moment to cramp her style.  The Lone Star Girl had a great time at the dance and then met her friends upstairs at the Whataburger by the Bay for the "after-party", while we adults rested downstairs.  We went home shortly after eleven - she had a wonderful night.

My sweet, beautiful girls!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Forget The Flowers - I Want My Kids To Have Clean, Safe Air For Mother's Day

Please join my family and Mothers & Others Against Las Brisas for a Mother's Day Demonstration for clean, safe air for our children to breathe.  Bring your signs and yourselves to the public sidewalks along SPID between Everhart and Staples at 6pm on Mother's Day, May 9th.  The community speaks!  No Las Brisas!