Friday, December 31, 2010

The Obligatory Post On Goals For The New Year

This post feels especially obligatory since I met so very, very few of my goals for 2010.  I don't want to say that the year wasn't productive, because I think it was very productive.  It just didn't play out in many ways that reflected my original goals. Here are some recaps of 2010 and new goals:


              1.)  2010 was a big year for our girls.  We helped the Lone Star Girl pick a new high school and chose an elementary school for the Lone Star Baby.  Both girls got settled successfully into new schools and activities and are doing very well, but it was a big transition for our family and adjusting to our new schedules took up most of our time and energy.  The Lone Star Girl earned her Silver Award in Girl Scouts, volunteered at the library in the summer while swimming summer league, was a Counselor-In-Training at Girl Scout camp in the summer, started high school, got very serious about her grades, joined the high school swim team,  helped fight Las Brisas and helped with the gubernatorial campaign, was in a high school play and started working on her Gold Award requirements for Girl Scouts.  The Lone Star Baby graduated from the school she had attended since the age of 18 months, took swimming lessons in the summer, started a new school in the fall in first grade, started violin lessons, started having real homework, had a great fall soccer season, completed her Daisy Flower Garden Journey in Girl Scouts, and is working on her Between Earth and Sky Journey in Girl Scouts.  Both girls continue to learn and grow in First Day School as well.  Goal number one is to keep carving out time and energy to support them in their education and other activities and just in whatever they need.  I feel we did a good job of that in 2010, but it is always our biggest job.  2.)  Have more fun with the husband - Lone Star Pa and I did carve out five evenings a week together one week in the summer when the Lone Star Girl was at camp and the Lone Star Baby was at Vacation Bible School, and we had a lovely afternoon walk on Wednesday, but we still aren't very good at fitting in the "us" time.  I am going to try to get us out alone together at least once a month in 2011, which is rather ambitious - we'll see if we can manage it.  3.) More organizing this summer - I didn't get to any organizing last summer but I did re-organize the Lone Star Baby's room a few days ago.  Hopefully, another room (like ours?) can be got to this summer.


1.) We continued to work very hard in 2010 to fight Las Brisas so that our children and the children of this community can remain well.  That work continues and still has to take precedence over other goals a lot of the time. 2.) We also worked very hard on the fall elections, although we were very unsuccessful and they went badly.  We had to try, though, and we will keep trying.  Next stop - City Council elections.

Health and Fitness:

           1.)  I lost no weight.  I suck.  In addition to exercise time being hard to come by, the truth is that my days are pretty (very) stressful and I require energy to get through them.  So far, it seems like I don't lose weight unless I am going far enough to feel pretty hungry and that makes me feel weak and low-energy.  I just can't face my days feeling that way.  I will be 40 in September and I really need to lose 49 pounds before menopause which I expect is right around the corner, but it is hard for me to imagine managing my job and doing that at the same time.  I am going to try harder.  2.) Spend more time with friends - this really didn't make it to the top of the list, either and I really need to do it.  I need to rebuild the support system I lost when the families with kids in my Quaker Meeting moved away and I just haven't managed it.  It is important for survival from a mental health perspective, though.


       I'm sticking with the serenity thing.  Its challenge is constant.


         1.)  It is SO embarrassing, but I still haven't finished Baby Moon.  This time last year, I had already finished all the essays and only needed to do the resources chapter and the introduction!  I have finished the resources chapter but have not yet finished the introduction, so that goal, and the goal of revising it and getting a proposal together, remain.  So embarrassing.  2.)  Also embarrassing, although I sent out submissions and got accepted in some markets I have already been published in and have some hope that some of my submissions that are still out there will be picked up by at least one of the new markets, I did not get poetry or articles or essays accepted for publication in 3 new markets in 2010, so that goal remains as well.  3.)  I did not complete a draft of a poetry book last summer, another of my goals, but I feel much more on the road to that goal, now.  In exciting writing-goal news, one of my poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2010, and that has really revitalized my poetry energy.


How did you do in 2010?  What are your goals for 2011?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Grrrl

On our way home from Family Planning of The Coastal Bend, where I took her so she could get some brochures for a paper she is writing on Planned Parenthood (and some other brochures for her under-educated friends), the Lone Star Girl squealed and told me to turn the car around and go back so I could see the new recycling containers that the City was apparently storing in a lot we had driven past.  I love that kid.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Comic Geek Baby

Wednesday is Comic Book Day, for the uninitiated, and when our little family traipsed over to Comics Plus this evening, the Lone Star Baby said to me:

"Would you check for me to see if a new Scooby-Doo is in my pull-box?"

Her father must be so proud.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kite Baby

Currently Reading

I just recently finished the 13th book in the Wheel of Time series and am working on Riordan's The Red Pyramid, both from the library.  I have also been reading a lot of Kage Baker, lately.  Her Company books really hold my attention, although I must admit that they add to my understanding of The Empress of Mars (by far my favorite of her books) in ways that really do not improve it.  Soon up is Ancient, Strange And Lovely, a sequel to the Dragon's Milk books (Fletcher?) that I quite enjoyed in years back.

Of Virus Cake And Careers

The Lone Star Girl had to research a disease and make a (preferably edible) model of it for her biology class that was due on the Friday before break.  She chose HIV/AIDS and wrote an amazing paper about it -  really amazing.  I know she's a brilliant girl but I was still a bit shocked at how much she came to understand about virology (now that she has explained it to me, we both suspect that viruses are Evil - something that is really messing with my world view, as I don't really believe in Evil, or don't want to...also, HIV is like those creepy Vidians in Star Trek).  She made a cake for her model, decorating it with candy in the form of the virus - can't imagine how the class would want to eat that, but they were all bringing edible disease models to share - West Nile rice krispy treats, Ebola brownies, etc..

She has really been loving her biology class this year. She especially digs microbiology.  She is so into it - just fascinated. It is making her rethink her aspirations.  

Not much more than a year ago, I would have pegged the Lone Star Girl to be a political science professor for sure when she grows up.  While I personally would prefer her to go into an environmental science and save the world with her enormous brain, that is where she seemed headed.  At some point in 8th grade, she decided that she wanted to be a nurse-midwife.  Given her own medical issues and my occasional (daily) worries about the collapse of modern society, I could not argue with such a practical choice, even though I do sort of still feel like the world needs her to tackle something a bit more global. The idea of her with nursing know-how is pretty comforting to me.

Now, though - I don't know.  She is so into microbiology that she may want to be some sort of research scientist.  I couldn't see her wanting to work for Big Pharma, so the college professor thing may be cropping up again, but in a new field. Watching children unfold their gifts seems to be a game of endless motion. It fascinates me as much as all the little molecules fascinate her.

Sister Sorrow And The Betrayal of Time

So my baby sister moved back to Dallas this past weekend.  This left me in a heap of weepiness and sobbing, in the arms of a nuclear family who are completely clueless, despite my attempts to raise them to be compassionate and caring human beings.

The last time Jazz moved to Dallas, leaving me a heap of weepiness and sobbing, in the arms of an insensitive man, she was six.  I was pregnant with the Lone Star Girl.  

The family had moved back to Corpus at the time that I moved to Austin for graduate school, so I moved back to Corpus after finishing school to be near them, trailing the insensitive man who I soon married, after securing a good job and a place to live.  Then I got knocked up and they decided to move back to Dallas.  Nice.

I spent Jazz's childhood monopolizing her vacations and training her to come to Corpus for college, but when she became a teenager, I kind of gave up on that dream of getting her back, because she seemed so distracted by the glitter of teen party life for awhile there.  Her early training won out, however, much to my joy, and Jazz moved to Corpus three and a half years ago to attend college here, majoring in kinesiology. 

It was yesterday, I tell you.  Maybe last week.  It couldn't have been longer ago than that.

But however short a time ago it seems, time has marched on.  Now she  is gone back to Dallas to do an internship for her final semester of college.  I shouldn't be so broken up about it, given that she is probably coming back for two years of graduate school after this semester.  Still.  Two years won't last long of three and a half years were an eyeblink.

And guess what other leave-taking will occur three and a half years from now?   The same length of time that seems like such an eyeblink since Jazz started college is all the time left....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Silver Award

We took our Senior Girl Scouts out to dinner with troop and family tonight to celebrate the earning of the Silver Award by the Lone Star Girl and another of our Girl Scouts.  The paperwork came through a few weeks ago, so we had certificates to present to them and then we, their mothers, pinned their Silver Award pins on them.  We are so proud of our girls!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Keeping The Solstice/Grey Havens


Always, in the days before Christmas, I walk over to the house of a certain woman with a small parcel of Christmas cheer - usually fruit from my citrus trees and a bit of candy or cookies.  This woman (and I used to make the same pilgrimage to another such woman's home as well, but she moved to Austin) was my boss at one time and my elder colleague for longer still and just a very good mentor in my life.  I rarely see her anymore.  She lives in a neighborhood close enough to mine, but not close enough for making carrying a bag of citrus easy.   I always forget just where her house is each year, underestimating the number of blocks from the one in the neighborhood sort of next door to my neighborhood to the block where she lives.  Walking there, I pass a house I lived in as a child for about two years, when my mother married and my sister was born, past the cat lady next door to it who gave me my late Pussywillow when I was just six.  I pass the sea glass wind chimes of a friend who now lives next door to the house a childhood friend lived in when I lived on that street - the friend whose father kept bees in their backyard.  I never knock or call this woman who I walk my gift to - I just leave the bag on her doorstep, when I finally find the blue shutters of her house. It is a Solstice offering to the Mother Goddess as much as to this mentor, this annual pilgrimage, I think. A thankfulness.


I looked for the lunar eclipse tonight.  The clouds obscured it and I wasn't sure I'd see enough to wake the girls, but finally I did, and I woke them and they saw it, too.  All up and down my block, it was only me out seeking, me and then mine, but no other neighbors gathering to drive the dark away with fires or gaze on the red moon in between the clouds.  Where were they?  It was only me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Have I Mentioned That I Have Figured Out The Answer To The Gay Marriage Debate?

Let's start with full disclosure:  my husband and I are about the only married couple left of the friends of our young "adulthood", despite being indisputably the couple that our friends would all have voted Most Likely To Divorce Or Kill Each Other.  While the divorces of all of our heterosexual friends have made us feel a bit nervous and lonely at times, we do not feel that the prospect of gay marriage threatens the sanctity of our marriage at all.  Bring on the gay marriages, we say!  Maybe gay people will be better at love and commitment in the context of legal marriages than straight people have been.  Probably not, but they certainly couldn't be any worse at it, could they?  I support gay marriage.

That said, our culture does seem to be rather contentious on the issue.  Most Americans seem to be in favor of civil unions for gay couples, but many still seem nervous about letting these unions be called "marriages".  Many (straight and somewhat bigoted) Americans seem to think civil unions should be enough and that fighting for actual "marriages" is going too far, not to mention being largely semantic in a legal sense.  Many (straight and somewhat bigoted) Americans seem to think that gay marriage is against their religious beliefs, as well.  Personally, I would never belong to any church that would deny someone their civil rights - I am a Christian, you see, and Jesus was not about bigotry.  Also, I think people who want gay people to have a second-tier option are bigoted indeed.  Nonetheless, the fact remains that everyone - even bigots - have a right to religious freedom just as everyone, including gay people, have the right to equal treatment under the law.

Here is my solution:  no legal marriages - gay or straight.  

People need to be treated equally under the law and the law should not be influenced by the religious opinions of one group over another.  So, to avoid this religious entanglement, let us get the government out of the business of marriage entirely.  The government can issue civil unions which should be the same for gay and straight couples alike.  That way, the government is not discriminating and is treating everyone equally under the law.  You go to the courthouse and get a civil union license, not a marriage license, and that civil union is the legal relationship.

Marriage can be the business of individual churches.  If a couple wants marriage as a sacrament or religious rite, they can apply to the church of their choice.  Some churches will grant marriage to gay and straight couples, some only to straight couples - heck, some might decide that only gay couples are fit to marry before God.  That becomes the business of churches, not the government, and no church has to sanctify any marriage that does not fit with its own dogma.

Personally, I think this is a perfect solution and am very proud of myself for thinking of it (somebody write a Bill!).  What do you think?


A Goldilocks Day

It is beautiful outside today.  The Lone Star Baby says that days like these - not too hot and not too cold - are "Goldilocks Days".  They are both poet children.

Christmas Reader

The main Advent calendar we use (we also have a magnetic one) is one with a little book to take out every day that tells a small bit of the Christmas story.  We read one little book every night and then hang it - they have slender golden threads like ornaments - on our little Advent tree (this year, a rosemary plant).  

We have loved this Advent calendar for many years now.  This is the first year that the Lone Star Baby has been big enough to read the little books all by herself so she has been reading them to us.  We are so proud of our little Christmas reader!

Poet Child

The Lone Star Girl and I were at H-E-B last night and I said that I wished we could find some canary melons.  Remembering them, she said they tasted like a wedding.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Great News And Terrible News

While not a fan of the military in general, I want to give them a big hand for making it clear to Congress that, overall,  they do not support bigotry against gays in their ranks.  I am very happy about the repeal of DADT - it is a step in the right direction towards full human rights for all people in our society.

Unfortunately, the Senate cared less about undocumented minors who have spent their lives in our nation, pledging allegiance to our flag every day in school, learning to be proud to be Americans.  Even though they had no control over the fact that their parents brought them here illegally and even though this is the only country they know, the failure of the DREAM Act leaves undocumented minors with no path to citizenship, but nowhere else to go.  It's a tragedy ... a slap in the face to our history as a nation of immigrants and to the Statue of Liberty and the stirring words of Emma Lazarus inscribed on its base.

Crazy Mornings

We've had some crazy mornings lately.  On Thursday, as I was dropping the Lone Star Baby off at her school in the morning, the Lone Star Girl called me from the Natatorium at the end of swim practice, saying she was having sort of an asthma attack and she had taken her inhaler but it seemed to be out and not really working right.  She didn't sound too bad on the phone and insisted it wasn't a hospital sort of attack (she was just kind of freaked because swimming had never brought it on before - running usually does), so I asked her if she would be okay to ride the bus back to her school and meet me there.  She said yes.  I half thought she would be fine by the time she got to school, but I zipped home, grabbed another inhaler and set up a sub. just in case, while calling to check on her a few times.  When I met her at the school, she wasn't scary-bad, but she did need to go to the doctor.  I gave her the new inhaler and that helped a lot.  I called the allergist and they said they were really booked and to take her to her primary care doctor since, with the inhaler, her peak flow was back in her green zone. 

I took her to school with me to get things set up for the sub. and had to get first period started before the sub. arrived, and then left to take her to the doctor.  The doctor said that there was a lot of breakthrough asthma lately and that she had a sinus infection (she'd been boogery a couple of weeks) that was triggering the asthma and that she sounded awful.  So we got lots of medicine and she's feeling better now, though still needing to use the inhaler for swimming which she doesn't usually need.

Friday morning, instead of swim practice, I was driving the Lone Star Girl to school to make up a test she missed Thursday before school.  I got in the drive-through line at the taqueria to get them breakfast for the car stuck there.  I was boxed in and for some reason the line took a supernaturally long time so we ended up running late-ish to all our drop-off points.  I dropped off the Lone Star Baby and dropped off the Lone Star Girl (I had meant to help her carry her virus cake in - more later on that- but had to leave her to manage on her own) and zipped to school just in time to not be late and to get my room ready before the bell.


Saturday morning was nicer.  We had to get up a whole lot earlier than I wanted to get up (after wrapping presents with Lone Star Pa late into the night) to take the Lone Star Girl to a swim meet, but she had to be there at 8 and it didn't start until 10, so after I dropped her off, I drove to the parking lot where they set up the Farmers' Market and sat in the car dozing and reading until it opened at 9am. I got to buy some beautiful vegetables before heading back to enjoy the swim meet. That was a nice morning.  And now we are on vacation!

Friday, December 17, 2010

TCEQ Protest

Local youth from the university have been protesting at the local TCEQ office this afternoon, trying to get through to the Commissioners to ask them not to call a special meeting to try to sneak the Las Brisas' air permit in before new air standards go into effect with 2011.  I believe they are being arrested now, but haven't heard anything but the Twitter feed and am worried.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More Winter Activities

We rolled some beeswax candles and made little cookie-cutter beeswax angel candles and cookie cutter beeswax-and-bead dove tree ornaments for the Lone Star Baby's teachers last weekend.  The Lone Star Baby also has been helping me stamp Christmas cards for mailing. 

The Lone Star Girl had a performance at school on Tuesday night - a reader's theatre collection of Christmas stories.  We took the Lone Star Baby to see it.  The Lone Star Girl has been sewing and baking in almost as much of a hurry as I have been baking and wrapping and shopping for things for teachers and school events.  It has been a busy, busy time.

Still, we are keeping up with our nightly Advent traditions and trying to stay in the Spirit in the midst of all the bustle.  I hope your holidays are going well!  Peace and Joy and Love to you all...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Day School: The Glorious Impossible

Today the Lone Star Baby and I had our Christmas lesson in First Day School, with materials based on the L'Engle story.  It was just us and another Friend at Meeting and my little girl was so settled into the silence that we almost didn't leave to have First Day School at all.  She is a very deep little vibration in our Meeting, this one is.  I don't think anyone knows it yet but me.

Lost Arts

The Lone Star Girl was just preparing to bake something for the swim team's holiday party and already had her ingredients mixed when she realized that we are out of non-stick spray.  I explained how to grease and flour the pan instead.

Her, doing it:  "How primitive."

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I was just reading to the Lone Star Baby one of the many dreary parts of The Long Winter in which the characters are silently wondering to themselves if they will starve.  

The Lone Star Baby interrupted to say: "I know they are going to be all right, because Laura wrote this book."

Monday, December 06, 2010

Throw Away Your Pixos

I just did.  I believe it was last Christmas (or her birthday, maybe) that I bought the Lone Star Baby a set of Pixos.  We are all about the craft kits, here, in just about every variety - my kids are artistes.  She really enjoyed playing with it. So did her sister.  And her dad.  

But guess what?

My school nurse sent out an e-mail today saying that they had just been warned at a training that the chemical in these toys can kill kids who ingest even a small amount, like by licking it.  She warned us about Pixos, Aquadots and Beados.  

I just threw our set out, but I am quite concerned about all the little Pixo creations that could be hiding all over the house.  Be careful!

Advent Activities & St. Nicholas Night

On Sunday, we rolled new Advent candles out of sheets of purple and pink beeswax - it was fun.  As the youngest child in the family, the Lone Star Baby lit the first candle last night, the first Sunday of Advent.  

My mom was in town visiting this weekend and she came over yesterday and helped us make some Christmas cards.  We put out plates of red, green and blue paint and used flat wooden ornaments (a tree, a reindeer, a snowman) as stamps.  That was fun, too, although I think we used too much paint and I had to leave them drying on the kitchen table all night.  We also are making some out of gold ink and a dove stamp.

We've been attending to our Advent calendars and holiday reading and Magi moving each night, but last night was special.  It was St. Nicholas Night (our name for the eve of St. Nicholas Day) and the girls each put out a shoe for St. Nicholas to fill before going to bed.  The Lone Star Girl found Girl Scout earrings in her shoe this morning before she left for swimming and, when the Lone Star Baby woke up, she found a tiny Model Magic craft kit in hers.  

What are your winter traditions?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Found Notebook

I have located the lost notebook in which I wrote the poetry I have been itching to work on some more - hurray!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Super Reader

The Lone Star Baby has finished the Magic Tree House books.  I had thought there were 49 of them for some reason, but there are only 44 and she finished them last week, after starting to read them in late July.  She went through periods where she was reading one or two (sometimes four) of the books a day but, by the end, I think she was a little tired of them.  Another is supposed to come out in January - maybe she'll still want to read it and maybe not.

Since finishing them, she read Madeleine L'Engle's Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas (Meet The Austins, here we come!) and has started in on The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  I have read these to her in Christmas Seasons Past, but now she is ready to read them to herself!  I'm so proud of her.  

I am still reading to her, of course (seasonal picture books and The Long Winter at present), but it is exciting that she can read these books on her own! 

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

State Administrative Law Judges Recommend Denying Las Brisas Air Permit!

Big news!  This is the second time they have recommended denying it.  Hopefully the TCEQ will listen. Read more from the Sierra Club here.