Monday, August 27, 2012

Google Subjects

I was complaining to Lone Star Pa that when he cleans out the computer, he can't seem to tell the difference between actual spyware and our harmless Google overlords.  Eldest overheard and said:  "I like Google.  They take the time to get to know me:  what I like, where I live..."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hold On To Women's Equality

Today is Women's Equality Day.  92 years ago, on this day, the 19th amendment was signed into law, giving women the right to vote.

We barely made it.  Tennessee was the last state to ratify the 19th amendment and it passed by one vote only - that of Harry Burns, a man who had intended to vote against suffrage until receiving a letter from his mother instructing him that he had better vote in favor of the ladies.

The time has come for women to get their sons back in hand, mamas.   

Our rights are in very grave danger from the crop of conservatives currently causing such a ruckus in the GOP.  Their wealth makes them hard to beat, but beat them we must. 

We have worked hard over the centuries to gain the legal right to vote, to be educated equally, to be allowed equality in the workplace even though we have (gasp!) babies and we sometimes need to (gasp!) nurse the babies. We have worked hard to be able to decide when and with whom we have those babies.

The Republican Party seems to want to take many of those rights away.  I don't know about other states, but the Texas Republican Party doesn't even try to hide it - they lay their agenda out clearly in their party platform for all to see.  

I do not want my daughters to face a future without contraception, without FMLA, without Title IX.  I do not want them to be treated as second-class citizens, walking wombs who do not really count as people.  The Republicans have to be stopped.

Vote for Obama for President if you love your daughters, or any woman anywhere in this country.  He's not perfect but he won't pass any laws that limit the future his own daughters will have, so he won't pass laws that will limit your daughters, either.  When you have finished that, vote every Republican out of Congress.  If they stand for the Republican Party Platform, they do not stand for women.  Hand out fliers, make phone calls, stand on street corners with signs....if we don't want them to win, we have to act.

The Republicans  can come back to office when they learn how to behave and how to share.  Until then, it's Time-Out!!!

School Scurries

If some evil mastermind had plotted to assassinate me last week by creating a variety of situations that would cause such huge adrenaline-spikes to my anxious-mama self that the adrenaline overdose would take me out.... they would have made a fine effort with the stuff that got thrown at me this past week - a fine effort. Fortunately, we are made of stronger stuff than that, worries and all.

All of this occurred during the last handful of staff development and teacher work days leading to the first day of classes (for my husband, myself and the Girl) on Monday.

My allergy mama stress of Monday continued Friday when I called the school nurse from work to see if the faxed paperwork had arrived from the allergist and was told that it had and she just had a few more pages that I now needed to sign and get back to her. Fortunately, my sister, who was taking the Girl to the doctor (a different doctor for a different medical issue which is still far from resolved) for me, stopped by the high school for me so the Girl could pick up those forms which she will return to the nurse when she arrives at school on Monday morning.

There is also the small issue of the loose sway bar links on the car.

There is also the looming issue of my husband having lost his temporary crown and being in some pain and finding little bits of tooth to pick out of his disintegrating tooth while he awaits his emergency appointment on Wednesday afternoon.  And we don't know how we are going to pay for that.

The biggie, though, was the Lone Star Baby's school.  

Since the LSB has been attending her lovely little Spanish-immersion Montessori school on a scholarship, we put her on the waiting list for a couple of other schools last spring in case the scholarship did not continue.  When we were told it would continue, we gave up the slots she was offered both at her old lovely dual-immersion Montessori charter school and at Metro-E, the newish public magnet school in town that is supposed to be all lovely and artsy and project-based.  During the summer, after giving up the slot, I heard that her old school, CCMS,  was beefing back up its Spanish program for this year (very important to us)  and, when the LSB's school started talking this month about possibly changing early and after-care hours as they figure out how to make the finances work, I started to realize that I probably should have taken the slot at CCMS.  Teaching jobs don't really allow flexibility in when you drop off and pick up your kid, after all - we just don't have the resources to experiment there.  I put her back on the waiting list, just in case, but everything seemed to be working out fine at her school.

On Thursday, Lone Star Pa picked the LSB up from after-school care in the evening and was handed a notice from the after-school care teacher:  the school was closing, effective that moment, licensing issues with the preschoolers and the hours they were open.

Can you say panic?

Both Lone Star Pa and I were supposed to be at work on Friday and classes start Monday!   We needed to get her enrolled in a school, some school, along with an after-school care program, for Monday ...stat!  I let my new principal know that I wouldn't be in Friday morning (wince - who wants to start out like that?) and we frantically gathered all the documents - birth certficate, immunization records, proof of residence, etc. - that we would need to get the LSB registered.  Then, we took the girls out to dinner just to be comforting.  

On Friday morning, we got up and got dressed and I headed over to CCMS first, making sure we'd be there before anyone else was.  I didn't think they'd have miraculously come up with a slot for the LSB, but I had to try.  If that didn't work, I was going to head for Metro and see if they still had our slot, but I didn't really think that would work either.  I fully believed that we would probably end up with her registered for our neighborhood school by 10am.  There is nothing in the least wrong with our neighborhood school except for the testing pressure that makes almost all traditional public elementary schools heavily over-emphasize math and reading.  The LSB, however, already knows every scrap of third grade reading and math that they will test her on in the third grade so I really did not want her to have to spend the year practicing it endlessly and pointlessly (for her) with no Spanish and very little social studies, science, art or music.  If that was what we had to do, it would be what we had to do, though.  I'm sure she would find something to occupy her mind - and hopefully something legal.  Could even be good for the little stress-pot, really.  Deep breaths.

We got so lucky.

CCMS had just had two slots open up.  They let her in!  They said she probably won't be in the dual-language room, which is full, but can be moved there later when there is an opening.  It might not be until next year, but that's a whole heaping lot better than nothing!  They were so nice!  The Lone Star Baby was so happy to see her friends and the familiar surroundings from first grade.  It is the best possible outcome, given the situation.

I got her registered for early and after-care, too, and the commute will be ever so much better than the one we had.  I dropped her off with her sister and got back to work by 9:30!  

We are all fine and we are ready for Monday!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Allergy Mom Meltdown

So, at the end of last school year, I was careful to make sure that we had all of the Lone Star Girl's allergy, asthma and medication paperwork ready and signed and turned in for this school year - it's quite a process but I have gotten a little practice now, so I thought I had it down.  Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the school district had posted a new medications policy on its website.  While we technically had on file everything it asked for, I could tell it was likely that the policy would require that all of our forms be updated to new ones.  Sadly, the new forms were not available to print from the online policy - you are supposed to get them from the school nurse.  

I immediately e-mailed the Girl's school nurse, but of course she was still out for the summer.  I called the Girl's allergist's office and explained and they gave me updated copies of what they had, but they don't have the school district's forms.

Yesterday, after my staff development was over, I finally got an e-mail from the school nurse that yes - I would need all new forms which she had ready for us.  Would need them before school starts Monday.

Sometimes, policies just make it too hard to be a parent trying to hold down a job, you know?  As fortunate as I am, in family health and employment, things like this can make a mama feel just defeated about trying to keep everything together.

Even though her work day was over and she was ready to leave, the school nurse agreed to wait for me while I zoomed across town to the high school and got the forms (the allergist's office wasn't accepting faxes from them because, obviously, their fax machine had been completely overwhelmed that day).  It was a stroke of huge luck that this happened on a Wednesday when the allergist's office is open until 6:30 for injections.  I rushed over there and explained to the office manager who was the epitome of kind about it.  I sat in the office and filled out the six pages of forms and left them there.  The office manager says that the doctor will sign them and they will fax them back to the high school today.

Meanwhile, I am still trying to distract myself from the icky adrenaline-spike after-effect feelings. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Texas Republicans' War On Birth Control

"Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything."

-State Representative Wayne Christian (R-Nacogdoches)


Percent of eligible American infants and toddlers receiving Early Head Start services.  Due to lack of funding.

One In Four

The incidence of poverty in American infants, toddlers and preschoolers during their years of greatest brain development.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

16.4 Million

The number of American children living in poverty.

The Crazies Are In Charge

Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri, is on the House Science Committee.  He says that women who are raped do not get pregnant, and implies heavily that a woman who is pregnant and says she was raped was, in fact, not.  Science (see the American Journal of Obstetricians And Gynecologists) finds that rape results in approximately 32,101 pregnancies per year.

Leaving off the fact that he is an apologist for all the rapists causing that unacceptable number of tragic, unwanted pregnancies through their attacks on women, Rep. Akin, is on the House Science Committee.  Science!  The craziest, most unscientific people in our world today seem to, more and more often, be making more and more important decisions about science!

This has got to stop.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

First Day School: Simplicity Testimony

Today, we started on the simplicity testimony in First Day School.  First, I had the Lone Star Baby do the SPICES work from last time, a sorting activity,  as a review.  Then, we talked more about simplicity and thought about some queries on simplicity.  We read Just Plain Fancy and discussed it, learned the Shaker Song and started reading Thee, Hannah.

('Tis a gift.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A First And Other Safety Concerns

We had a great Girl Scout meeting yesterday, with the Daisies working on their Friendly and Helpful petals and the Brownies working on their First Aid badges and both working on their safety awards.  One of our moms is a doctor and she came and talked to the girls and she was just fantastic, really.  The big girls are working on their safety awards, too, so one of them, in addition to the Girl, also came and they talked to the little girls about internet safety.

Then....the young lady from my big girl troop got in her car and drove herself home.  This was the first time in all my years as a Girl Scout leader that I have released a girl to go home on her own rather than safely delivering them into the care of a parent or their proxy.  Big changes!  Big girls!

Of course it only makes my Girl mad because I am not letting her drive yet.  As superlatively responsible as  she is in most things, I do not think her quite ready for that responsibility.  To be honest, I do not think teens under the age of 18 should drive at all - the statistics are grim.

She is finding the whole transportation thing hard, lately.  Not really in practice, but in theory as she looks forward to working on her Gold Award and oh, so many projects.  Her dad and I cannot really arrange the whole family around where she needs to go all the time and she anticipates needing to go a lot of places in the next two years.  Driving would not really help here as there is no way she'd be getting a car anyway, but she resents the fact that I also will not let her catch rides with other teens who do drive - again, the statistics are grim.  The statistics are quite extremely grim for teen drivers with other teens in the car - no.  We're not doing that, but I seem to be the only parent who feels that way:  statistics-reading me.  She is going to have to figure out routes and start riding the bus around town some, which is fine with both of us.  She still wishes I would let her go places where I won't let her go, though - she wants to do so much, accomplish so much, so all at once!

Soon enough, she really will be ready to take off on her own for good.

Friday, August 17, 2012

You Don't Leave Your Kids - Even If You Are Male

Today, I read an advice column that I usually enjoy, finding the advice writer to generally include a lot of depth and wisdom in his responses to letter-writers.  But not today.  Today, I was appalled by asked-for advice and that given.

A father had written in, saying that he was feeling guilty that he was planning to move away from the area where his sixteen-year-old daughter lived with her mother and stepfather.  He wanted to marry his true love in another part of the country where he would also have better job opportunities.  He was concerned that she might feel abandoned, the way he had felt as a child in similar circumstances.  Would she be okay?  It was pretty obvious that the guy was leaving regardless and just wanted someone to assuage his guilt.

Which the columnist proceeded to do.  He assured the man that he should go for his dreams and stay in close touch and the girl would understand and be okay.


Someone posted a comment on the column to the effect that moving far away from your kid really wasn't okay, and had serious emotional consequences and then many, many, many other commenters slammed that commenter with how it was just perfectly fine and geez, the kid was already sixteen and why should he give up his future for to stay with her when she would be moving out in a couple of years anyway.


I could not help thinking about what the columnist and the commenters would have had to say if the letter-writer had been the child's mother.  Would they have thought it was okay if a woman had considered moving away from the part of the country where her sixteen-year-old lived in order to marry her boyfriend and pursue her career?

Of course not.

Such a woman would be slammed from one side of the interwebs to well she should be.  But so should be fathers who leave their children.  It is not acceptable for any parent of a minor child to move away from them - even if that parent is male.   Mothers are not more responsible for being there - it's a team effort.  I am generally 100% against bashing other parents - parenting is an impossible job and almost everyone who sticks it out is doing the best they know how to do and does not deserve criticism from anyone else - but you have to be there to count.

Try to get the whole you-have-to-stay-and-take-care-of-them-until-they-are-fully-grown thing through your head before you have kids, please.  Geez.

Wherein The Girl Weighs In On Jane Eyre...And Knowing When To Get Out

My Girl has always been a reader, but I have never really been able to interest her in the classics that I loved so well as a young person, except for the children's classics that I read to her when she was little.  I worried for a time (it's what I do) that she did not have the necessary stamina and attention span for denser text, but have been reassured by the fact that she happily reads many very dense scientific and cultural texts, for pleasure as well as for school.

She just really isn't impressed with classic literature.  Especially the people in the stories.  The women.  The men.

As I mentioned before, the Girl had to read and annotate Jane Eyre this summer for school.  When I was young, I really enjoyed Jane Eyre, but she has not enjoyed it at all.  She says it is like Twilight, and she does not mean that as a compliment.  I quote: 

"So for school we have to read a book about a teenage girl who moves to a new town and meets guy who is way too old for her. He keeps very big secrets from her and is completely abusive (but only because he loves her so much, which makes it okay) but in the end, she marries him anyways. Wait, hold on, I think I've read this book before...."

Some friends of mine have entered into a lively online discussion about her opinion on this, but she has not been swayed.  I tell her that Stephanie Meyer is a hack, and that's an important difference, but she doesn't think the language in Jane Eyre is beautiful - just old.   I talk about the context of Jane's century, but the Girl will brook no excuses - she says Jane was decent, and perhaps stronger than Bella (not saying much), but dumb, and should never have fallen for someone like Rochester, who is much worse than the sufficiently terrible Edward.

My Girl is harsh.  

I sometimes worry (what I do) about her rather complete lack of romanticism of any kind,'s certainly better than the opposite.  I am glad she has a good head on her shoulders and no intention of putting up with any nonsense.  She has watched plenty of girls fall to boys who were not worthy of them and has no intention of ending up that way.  Happy mediums don't come easily to adolescents (or to many people of any age, I guess).

In what I thought was her most insightful comment, the Girl says that the moment that Jane should have left Rochester was when he told her he was only pretending he was going to marry the mean, rich lady (unbeknownst to the mean, rich lady) to make Jane jealous.  That was when Jane had all the information she needed to know that he was not a decent man.  The Girl says it's like when Anakin Skywalker, after killing the tribe of Tusken Raiders that killed his mother,  told Padme: "I killed them.  Not just the men, but the women and the children, too."  

Yup.  Time to go.

So many problems in the world would be solved, I think, if more girls could recognize those moments when they have all the information they need to know that the men they are falling for are not decent...and could act on that knowledge.

Of course, it's easier said than done.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Things Yet That Ryan & Romney Want For America

Privatizing Medicare with a system that will cost seniors more overall, and charging seniors more for prescription drugs and preventative care.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Things Romney & Ryan Want For America

Cutting 200, 000 kids out of Head Start.

Getting A Submissions E-mail Address

I am unhappily adding a new e-mail address to my life.  

I feel like it is already too hard to have to check all the e-mail I have, but I have been slowly driven to the conclusion that I need a separate e-mail address for my writing submissions.  This is mainly because my regular personal e-mail address has a problem with sending out my e-mails in all-one-block-of-smushed-up-text.  I thought I had fixed the problem, but it happened again.  

This really does not work for a poet.


Literary Feast Or Famine

Sometimes, I am rich with books.

I may have two or three books I have bought or been given or lent on hand waiting - good books - and an equal number out from the library that are engaging.  I feel so wealthy in those times.

Other times are like this summer, though, when I feel poor of books (ridiculous, you might say, if ever you have been to my house).

Then, I find only a smattering of sort-of interesting books that I have not read in a whole season - when long explorations through the library shelves produce nothing that really grabs me, when all my wonderful home books are not in the right time-since-I-last-read-them span to be re-read with proper enjoyment.  Such times are hard for me.  Very, very hard.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Writerly Comfort

Did you know that Julia Alvarez did not get her first book published until she was 41 years old?  Just sayin'.

Democrats And Republicans In Texas: Compare & Contrast

I have come to the last post in my series of posts on the 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform and the 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform.  My posts have only hit the high points - I highly recommend that every Texan go to the websites of each state party and read the platforms in their entirety.  When you have done so, you will notice a marked difference in the value systems of the two parties:

Texas Republicans believe in laissez-faire capitalism taken to the extreme.  They believe that the rich should be unfettered by taxes and fair labor practices and health and environmental regulations.  They believe that women, people of color and people who are gay do not deserve the same sort of legal rights that are enjoyed by straight, white men.  They believe that those who are not wealthy are not entitled to an education or food or health care.

Texas Democrats believe in equal rights under the law - between genders, races and people of different abilities and sexual orientations.  Texas Democrats believe that education, health care and the needs of basic survival are for everyone, not just the rich.  Texas Democrats believe in protecting workers, families and the environment.

What do you believe?  Do not be deceived into voting against your beliefs or the best interests of your family.  Do the research.  Vote.  

We choose which platform we will get.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer Reading

My girl hates annotating, but I love the way she does it - such style:


Texas Democrats And The DREAM Act

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform calls on Congress to pass the DREAM Act, creating a way for the children of undocumented parents, who were brought here as minors, to gain education and citizenship in service to our great country.

Not Exxon Mobil?

I'm a little surprised at Romney's choice of Paul Ryan for his running mate - sounds about right for the the right-wingers he has been courting, but not very strategic for the rest of more-moderate America.  I think Mr. Romney's kind of a mess strategically, but he has plenty of Cheney-types in the background to give him enough help that I don't count him out.  

We have to work hard to defeat Ryan's ilk, to which Romney seems to have decided to hitch his wagon.  We have to save America for working families.

Texas Democrats Support Our First Amendment Right To Petition The Government For Redress of Grievances

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform supports the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the exercise of the rights therein which is hampered by Governor Perry's veto of the Anti-SLAPP Bill.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Texas Democrats And Human Rights: Hate Crimes

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform calls for strong enforcement of the James Byrd, Jr. Memorial Hate Crimes Act and the federal Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Texas Heat Continued

Early in the morning like this, my gardening/urban farming impulses start to return.  By ten o'clock, though, they go back to sleep in the heat.  I am so tired of global warming.  How are we supposed to prepare ourselves if it is too hot to even grow food?

Texas Democrats And Human Rights: Free & Fair Voting

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform calls for vigorous enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act (as opposed to the Texas Republicans who call for its abolition) and an end to voter suppression. 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Texas Democrats And Human Rights: Gay Marriage

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform recognizes that same sex marriage should be valid and legal in America and calls for the repeal of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, the Texas Defense of Marriage Act and the Texas Constitutional Marriage Amendment.

Personally, Lone Star Ma does not understand why some straight people think that their marriages need "defense" from gay marriage.  No gay people have ever threatened my marriage.  Some straight women have tried, mind you, but no one tries to pass any laws defending my marriage from them.  Not that I need the help, as it turns out, but I still don't understand the danger of gay marriage.  These DOMA people get confused, I think.

Texas Democrats And Human Rights: The Death Penalty

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform calls for the death penalty to be abolished and replaced with the punishment of life in prison without parole.

Texas Democrats And The Environment

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform supports a transition to clean, abundant sources of energy using the encouragement of tax incentives and exemptions as well as strong energy efficiency standards.

Texas Democrats support reforming the TCEQ to truly protect the safety of Texas water, air and soil.  Texas Democrats support the EPA's proposed rule to reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants from power plants and enforcement of the Clean Air Act.

Health comes first.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

My Ambassadors

My big girl troop (I generally think of my troops as my big girl troop and my little girl troop) bridged to the level of Girl Scout Ambassadors last night.  This is the oldest girl-level of Girl Scouts - after that, there's just adult.  My girl has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten (actually, a bit before as she was in a mixed-age class when Daisies started) and we have another girl in the troop who has been with us since first grade.  We also have a girl who just joined us this year!  They are all so big, now - their goals and futures stretching out before them.  I am so proud of them - they have grown up to be kind, strong, smart, beautiful young women.

If I posted pictures of other people's children, I would be posting pictures here of them when they were wee little Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts and them now that they are so grown-up.  Just imagine.

Texas Democrats And Homelessness

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform states that Texas Democrats are committed to ending homelessness by removing barriers to and increasing access to services.

Texas Democrats And Child Welfare

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform supports an end to privatization and under-staffing of the facilities that care for children and other vulnerable Texans.  Texas Democrats support greater oversight of these facilities.  

Texas Democrats oppose discrimination in foster care and adoption services and believe that every child deserves to live in a safe and secure environment with loving, qualified parents, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

Texas Democrats believe that Child Protection Services should be funded to reduce caseloads and ensure federal compliance and should not be privatized (Lone Star Ma says read The Lost Children of Wilder if you ever want to know what these privatization schemes lead to, mamas).

Texas Democrats believe that child support enforcement field staff levels need to be adequate to collect owed child support so Texas children, not private collectioneers,  get supported.

Texas Democrats support child care initiatives and after-school care for Texas children.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Texas Murders

In less than an hour, Texas will - unless the Supreme Court intervenes - execute (another) man with an I.Q. (61) in the range of mental retardation. The Supreme Court has ruled that this is illegal but Texas is doing it anyway. 


Texas Democrats And The Privatization of Social Services

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform opposes the privatization of social services that has lined the pockets of private companies like Accenture while leaving low-income Texas children, elderly and Texans with disabilities to go hungry because of delays in processing SNAP applications.  Children and families relying on Medicaid and CHIP for health insurance have also been unable to access health care because of these unethical, profit-oriented contractors.  Texas Democrats support hiring enough state workers to properly provide for the needs of our citizens rather than wasting tax dollars on ineffective private contracts.

Texas Democrats and Health Care

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform supports health care for all. It supports access to preventative health care, mental health and substance abuse services, family planning, education and services to prevent communicable infections.  

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform supports children's heath insurance.  It states that Texas Democrats:  "support full restoration of the original CHIP program and policies, reinstatement of the simplified application process, aggressive outreach to enroll all eligible children, and a 12 month period of continuous health coverage."

Texas Democrats support improving Medicare, protecting Medicaid and eliminating health care disparities between Americans of different races, genders, incomes or regions.

(So do I.)

Monday, August 06, 2012

Texas Democrats And The Economy

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform has a lot to say about rebuilding our economy that was smashed by the lax regulation of the Bush administration:

Texas Democrats want to restore a sound banking system.

Texas Democrats want to make having homes, health care and a college education once more affordable for the middle class.

 Texas Democrats want to stop public-sector lay-offs.

Texas Democrats want to invest in infrastructure to create jobs in education, energy, information and transportation.

Texas Democrats want to bring back American manufacturing jobs that have been outsourced  by the multinational corporations.

Texas Democrats also believe in strong supports for labor, so American workers can have job security, decent working conditions and decent lives.

More From Texas Democrats On Education

The 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform has a lot more to say about education:  

It specifically supports putting programs in place to help at-risk students succeed in and complete their educations.  

It strongly advocates support and respect for teachers so that teachers will stay in the profession.  

Texas Democrats support reforming the State Board of Education so that our curricula are not dictated by partisan extremists. 

Texas Democrats prioritize safe schools for every student. 

Texas Democrats support better funding for higher education, as well as community colleges.

Texas Democrats support diversity and tolerance in higher education - in admissions, curricula, activities and student life.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Pop-Culture Vacuums And Long-Haired Hippie Babies: Life Tidbits From Our Little Bungalow

Lone Star Girl:, finally, I heard it at the closing ceremony at the GWF and I was like,"Oh!  So this is that song!  I hadn't heard it before!" and Spidey was like "Where do you live?! I live in the middle of nowhere and I've heard it!" and I was like "I live in a cultural vacuum"...

Me:  POP-cultural vacuum.

LSG:  You're right; pop-cultural vacuum.

Me:  Plenty of culture....


Meanwhile, the Lone Star Baby has managed to grow her hair quite incredibly long in recent months.  It is easily past her waist, something hard for us curlier girls to understand.  I keep trying to convince her to donate it, but she wants to keep it long.  I am starting to think that people who see her will think she belongs to some crazy females-must-have-long-hair sect of the religious right, rather than our own crazy peace-and-equality-loving sect of the religious left.  She quite insists on keeping it long, though.

First Day School: Quaker SPICES

Today at First Day School, we started our SPICES "unit" on Quaker testimonies in our Little Friends/Lower El "class". 

I read about and discussed the testimonies (simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, stewardship) with the Lone Star Baby and we went over some queries about each one.  I explained how "stewardship" seems only to be discussed separately from "simplicity" in recent years and how I pretty much think of them together but how they can be looked at distinctly.

Then, the Lone Star Baby laid out cards on a tray - each of the testimonies had a card with its name printed on it, and a title card to go above them that said "SPICES:  Quaker Testimonies".  She then opened a spice jar and emptied it of the small objects and pictures inside.  The objects and pictures stood for or were part of different testimonies:  a mirror, a picture of a hat, a picture of clasped hands of different colors, a placard with the word "lying" crossed out, a tiny "votes for women" placard, a little frog, a picture of a neighborhood, a list of service possibilities like food and clothing drives, a little turtle, a little dove, a picture of a camel and the eye of a needle, a little peace sign, a tiny clothespin doll in Quaker greys. The Lone Star Baby placed the objects and pictures under the testimony they matched, discussing and getting some assistance from me.  Then, she did it over again by herself.  

I encouraged her to think about the testimonies in the weeks ahead, and we re-joined Meeting for Worship.

Next, I hope for us to have two to four lessons on each of the testimonies during this school year, starting with simplicity. 

Texas Hot

My interest in container gardening/urban farming is usually pretty intense, but at this time of year...not so much.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Texas Democrats And Excellent Schools

While the 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform goes on about not teaching dangerous stuff like critical thinking (and real science), the 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform has this to say:

"To make public education our highest priority, we believe the state should:
·∙ provide universal access to pre-­‐kindergarten and kindergarten;
·∙ provide free, accurate and updated instructional materials aligned to educationally appropriate,    non-­‐ideological state curriculum standards and tests;
·∙ provide free computer and internet access, as well as digital instructional materials;
·∙ provide early intervention programs to ensure every child performs at grade level in English Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and Science;
·∙ ensure that students with disabilities receive an appropriate education in the least restrictive environment, including access to the full range of services and supports called for in their individual education plans;
·∙ provide appropriate career and technical education programs;
·∙ reject efforts to destroy bilingual education;
·∙ promote multi-­‐language instruction, beginning in elementary school, to make all students fluent in English and at least one other language;
replace high-­‐stakes tests, used to punish students and schools, with multiple measures that restore the original intent of the state assessment system: improving instruction to help students think
critically, be creative and succeed;
·∙ end inappropriate testing of students with disabilities whose individual education plans call for alternative assessments of their educational progress;
·∙ enforce and extend class size limits to allow every student to receive necessary individualized attention;
·∙ support Title IX protections for gender equity in public education institutions;
·∙ ensure that every student has access to appropriate counseling services;
·∙ ensure that every school has a fully funded and staffed library, fully equipped with both print and electronic media, that is regularly open and accessible to students and faculty;
·∙ provide universally accessible after-­‐school programs for grades 1-­‐12;
·∙ provide environmental education programs for children and adults;"

Sounds better, doesn't it?

Breastfeeding: The Reading List

In honor of World Breatsfeeding Week, here is a list of books that I found very helpful and informative:
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
By La Leche League International

Mothering Your Nursing Toddler
By Norma Jane Baumgarner

Mother’s Milk:  Breastfeeding Controversies In American Culture
By Bernice L. Hausman

Milk, Money, And Madness:  The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding
By Naomi Baumslag and Dia L. Michels

Breastfeeding:  Biocultural Perspectives
Edited by Patricia Stuart-Macadam & Kaetherine A. Dettwyler

The Seven Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding
By Sheila Kippley

Nursing Mother, Working Mother
By Gale Pryor

Hirkani’s Daughters:  Women Who Scale Modern Mountains to Combine Breastfeeding and Working
Compiled & edited by Jennifer Hicks (including a story by me!)

The Milk Memos:  How Real Moms Learned To Mix Business With Babies – and How You Can, Too
By Cate Colburn-Smith and Andrea Serrette.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Call For Submissions for Lone Star Ma #11 - Deadline Extended To August 30th!

Call For Submissions - Lone Star Ma #11
Calling for submissions for Issue #11 of Lone Star Ma:  The Magazine of Progressive Texas Parenting And Children's Issues!!!
For this issue, we are looking for feature articles on the effects of lax enforcement of environmental standards on children in Texas.  We are looking for articles on how the Right-Wing War on Women affects mothers and children.  Specific other topics we might be interested in:  social services funding in Texas, education in Texas, urban farming for busy families, the Texas State Board of Education, libraries, sex education, breastfeeding, safely avoiding insect-borne tropical diseases.  We do accept articles on other themes as well if they strike our fancy, so send whatever you think we should consider and we will ponder it.  Things are bad for the women and children of Texas these days, folks.  We need to spread the word and save our kids' futures from the likes of those who only care about the wealthy and the powerful.  Not on our backs.  Not on our children's backs.  Not now.  Not ever.  We will stop them.
Please see the general submission information below for guidelines and please consider submitting to our various departments. 

Lone Star Ma wants poetry.  Lone Star Ma wants mama fiction.  Lone Star Ma wants brilliant articles. What have you got? 

The deadline for submissions has been extended to August 30th. 

Raise your voices. 

xo, Lone Star Ma


Lone Star Ma is a reader-written magazine covering topics of progressive Texas parenting and children's issues.  I totally cannot pay you for your submissions, but if I like 'em, I'll print 'em.  We need to get our voices out there.  To submit an article or poem to Lone Star Ma, please send it in the body of an e-mail to submissions(at)lonestarma(dot)com.  E-mails with attachments will not be opened.

Please include working contact info., including a mailing address, phone number and e-mail address, if possible.  I may print a submitted article in a later issue than you had in mind, so if you don't want it printed after a certain date, please say so.  Please include with your submission a bio-line, such as "Radical Rae is the mother of 4-year-old Joey and works as a social worker in Houston."  Thanks.

In addition to features, mamafiction and poetry, Lone Star Ma accepts submissions for the following regular departments:


We Love them!! Please write!!!  Attn:  Letters.

Longhorn Lactation

If you have lactation news, information or action alerts, please submit them, attn:  Longhorn Lactation.

Vegetarian Vittles

is your place for recipes and resources for vegetarian families. If you have vegetarian recipes, news, alerts or stories to share with fellow parents, please submit them, attn:  Vegetarian Vittles.  (Recipes with nuts ain't welcome in these parts.)  Please send recipes attn:  Vegetarian Vittles.

Yellow Rose Reviews

Is where you review exceptional children's toys, books, magazines, music and educational products that you might not hear about in more mainstream venues.  Please send reviews attn: Yellow Rose Reviews.

Educatin' The Young 'Uns

If you have education news, information or action alerts, please submit them, attn:  Educatin' The Young 'Uns.

Texas Democrats And Education Funding

I have spent a lot of posts in the past  month or so reviewing choice pieces of craziness from the 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform.  Lone Star Pa reminded me that it is important to highlight what the 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform has to say as well.  On the topic of education funding, for example, the 2012 Texas Democratic Party Platform has this to say:

"Texas Democrats believe:
  • the state should establish a 100% equitable school finance system with sufficient state revenue to allow every district to offer an exemplary program;
  • the state should equitably reduce reliance on "Robin Hood" recapture;
  • state funding formulas should fully reflect all student and district cost differences and the impact of inflation and state mandates;
  • Texas should maintain, extend and enforce the 22-­‐1 class size limits and expand access to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs; and
  • the federal government should fully fund all federal education mandates and should reform and fully fund the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)." 
 Kind of sounds better than reducing education funding at all levels, doesn't it?

Breastfeeding Resource Organizations

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, here is a list of breastfeeding resources:

La Leche League International
P.O. Box 4079
Schaumburg, IL 60168-4079
(847) 519-7730
1+800-LALECHE (525-3243)

International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) Office
2501 Aerial Center Parkway, Suite 103
Morrisville, North Carolina, 27560, USA
(919) 861-5577

World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA)
PO Box 1200
10850 Penang, Malaysia

 The International Baby Food Action Network

Wellstart International
P.O. Box 602
Blue Jay, CA 92317

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
140 Huguenot Street, 3rd floor
New Rochelle, New York 10801
(800) 990-4ABM
(914) 740-2115

World Health Organization (WHO)
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27

United States Breastfeeding Committee
2025 M Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036-3309
(202) 367-1132

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
(In the U.S.) UNICEF House
3 United Nations Plaza
New York, New York 10017

Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative USA
327 Quaker Meeting House Road
E. Sandwich MA 02537
(508) 888 - 8092

Kellymom Breastfeeding and Parenting


Medela, Inc.
Breastfeeding U.S.
1101 Corporate Drive
McHenry, IL 60050
(800) 435-8316
(Breast pumps and pumping supplies)


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Affordable Care Act Gets Breast Pumps Covered - Starting Today!!!!

In an ever-so-fitting coincidence for the first day of World Breastfeeding Week, today is a day when more provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect, including...(drum roll, please)...that health plans have to cover breast pumps!!!

What a wonderful thing for mothers and babies in our country!  It is so hard to keep up your milk supply when you have to work away from your baby and I have known so many mothers who struggle and fail to manage because they are using the kind of inferior breast pump that is all they can afford.  The kind of good breast pump that it takes for most mamas to be able to keep providing their babies the good stuff while they are at work is just too expensive to be in reach for most workers.  

This coverage will improve the health of so many mothers and babies by making it possible for working moms to keep nursing longer.  So exciting!

Just one of the many reasons to love "Obamacare"....

Texas State Board of Education District Two Race

Ruben Cortez, Jr. won the run-off yesterday for the Democratic nominee for the SBOE District Two seat.  I honestly would have been happy with him, his opponent, or any of the other Democrats who originally ran for the seat.  No one will ever be another Mary Helen Berlanga, of course, but these candidates all seemed like a vast improvement over most of the other crazies - I mean, people - serving on the SBOE.

Honestly, even the teacher who won the Republican nomination would be a vast improvement over most SBOE members - she understands that diversity is important in social studies, at least (as does Mr. Cortez).  She did tell me she was in support of "practical scientific theory" being taught in the classroom, as opposed to the things she considers more controversial like, say, evolution and the Big Bang Theory, though, so no voting for the nice Republican lady.  Rigorous science education is of crucial importance to the future of our state and nation.

Mr. Cortez will do nicely.

Wow, Texas Republicans...Just...Wow....

As if that whole crazy 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform thing was not enough, Texas Republicans just chose Ted Cruz as their nominee to run for Senate yesterday.  Apparently, David Dewhurst - who was Rick Perry's Lt. Governor, for heaven's sake - was Not Conservative Enough.  I guess because there were still a few scraps of severely underfunded state agencies and the remnants of a public school system left in Texas, the Texas Republicans feel he did not go far enough.


Let's just hope Paul Sadler kicks his tail feathers in November.

A Win For A Texas Rose!

I am excited that Rose Meza Harrison won the run-off yesterday for the Democratic Congressional Candidate for our area.  I know that Rose cares about the environment, education, children and women's issues and would make a wonderful Congresswoman.  

I hope she beats that sexist, school-hating Farenthold to a pulp in November.  He once actually told my daughter:  "Education is not mentioned in the Constitution so we should not be funding it."  He also stood by silently while a bunch of his followers yelled "slut!" and "whore!" at my then fifteen-year-old daughter when she stood up at his Town Hall meeting and advocated for Title X funding. 

We need Rose.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

Happy World Breastfeeding Week, Mamas!

It has been a number of years, now,  since my youngest little nursling weaned, but I still treasure the comfort and health and closeness and smarts that breastfeeding brought to our family.  Both girls still remember nursing very fondly to this day, as well.

This year, the theme for World Breastfeeding Week is Understanding The Past, Planning The Future:  Celebrating Ten Years of WHO/UNICEF's Global Strategy For Infant And Young Child Feeding.

The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding was jointly started by the World Health Organization and UNICEF in 2002,  It re-affirms the need to meet the targets set in the Innocenti Declaration in 1995, as well as the need to meet new targets.  The Global Strategy is a human rights strategy that prioritizes optimal feeding practices as a way to reduce malnutrition and poverty.  It calls on nations to set policies on infant and young child feeding practices.  It includes guidance on how to protect exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued nursing for two years and beyond, while adding other, appropriate foods.