Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some Goals For 2014

I nailed my work goals for 2013 (fantastic, above and beyond nailed them) but did not do nearly as well at any of the others.  I don't think I even approached them.

So this year I am just going to list some mostly more general goals and hope that I will feel more successful this time next year.


More individual and group bonding time with husband and daughters.  Better routines.  Provide emotional support to family members' endeavors.    Launch eldest daughter to college or whatever she decides to do after high school (college).  More regular phone contact with Mom and siblings.


Keep up the great work.  Grow and excel in new position. Present a poster or paper or publish something.


Still need to lose the weight.  Still need to spend more time outside.

Spend more time with friends - at least one outing each month - preferably more.

Keep up with Girl Scouts and citizenship and the girls' schools as best as possible but be kind to self about not being able to Do All The Things - this is a really busy time for us with a lot of responsibilities. 

Help get Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte elected.


Submit one poem each month
Finish Baby Moon
Submit at least one essay per quarter
Publish Issue 11 of Lone Star Ma.

What are your goals for 2014?  Please post some in the comments section.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Children of 2013

For each of your children, list the one thing you can think of (off the top of your head - I am sure there are many others) that the child in question did in 2013 of which you are most proud.  Not things like winning basketball tournaments or SAT scores - real things that show growth in maturity/responsibility and/or goodness.

After you post your answer in the comments section, go tell the kids how proud that made you.  

Yeah - I'm just bossy today.


The Books of 2013

What was the best book you read in 2013?  Why was it so good?

(Leave a comment with your answer and I will enter you in a drawing for a mystery book...)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Get Your Freaking Flu Shot

The H1N1 flu virus is killing people in the Houston area.  It is not too late to get your flu shot.  If you have not yet gotten one, get your butt to your doctor's office or the nearest CVS or Walgreen's and get it now, please.  Flu pandemics are serious business, Mamas.

Double Tap

Are you familiar with this military strategy?  Apparently it has been in the news - reliable university sources are easy to find with a quick search - but I originally found out about it from the Girl after one of her schoolmates did a class presentation on it.

Apparently it is fairly common when our U.S. military strikes a "target", to follow up with a second strike about an hour later. 

To get the first responders.  The first responders.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Make or Find

It has always been my rule for the girls that if they choose to give me a present, like on a traditional gift-giving occasion such as Christmas or my birthday or Mother's Day, I want it to be something they make or find, not something bought.  This has resulted in the usual wealth of pictures and clay creations from both girls from very young ages and I treasure them all.  Since she has been old enough to expand her makings, though, the Lone Star Girl has outdone herself every year.  I rather doubt any other mothers have quilts their fifteen year olds made for their fortieth birthdays with a square for each year of their life, or drawers modpodge-ed with family photos or...well, there has been a lot.  This year, she modpodge-ed a coffee table with maps (I love maps) for me and made this beautiful sea bottle.

I would still be the luckiest mother alive to have these wonderful girls with no gifts at all, of course, but I do think the Girl is rather extraordinary at making gifts for her mother.  I like to think that my rule has had some small part in shaping her creativity and generosity, but she is pretty amazing on her own, so it is hard to say.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Boxing Day!

I think Boxing Day is for watching Dr. Who, but that has to wait until the Lone Star Baby is asleep.  So far it has been about sleeping in and leftovers and a looooong game of My Little Pony Monopoly (yes, we discussed the horrible capitalism of it all - fear not),  soon to be followed by more leftovers and watching the rest of what I call A Very Star Wars Christmas, which was halted late last night when the youngest among us fell asleep.

Boxing Day here, then, is the festivities on chill and lots of lazy family time, which is just The Best.

Hope your Boxing Day is just as sweet!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

We have had a sweet Christmas morning with our little family.  I hope your Christmas is also sweet!  Glad tidings!  Light and love to everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Baking

We made:  pumpkin bread, cranberry bread, gingerbread cookies ("Mom, I'm just going to cut the Gingerbread Woman's skirt so she can make it in the world of work."  "I made a Gingerbread Tardis and a Weeping Angel!"  "It's Gingerbread Cap!"), diablo cookies (watch out for those - I think I made them too spicy this time), Iraqi cardamon cookies, peppermint sugar cookies, raspberry jam thumbprint cookies and chocolate peanut butter cookies. 


And the neighbors have been Kris Kringled with some of the pumpkin bread and cranberry bread and cookies.


And people have had tantrums and gone to bed.  And other people need to get to bed so things can get wrapped. 


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Shortest Day

I guess I had better light some candles against the winter cold (figuratively, as it is over 70 degrees out) and hang some evergreen and get moving,  Mamas - there's not much Light to work with today.  Happy Solstice!  Remember: tomorrow, the light will be longer!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beeswax Christmas Love

I ordered a set of colorful beeswax sheets for the Lone Star Baby to roll into candles for teacher gifts this holiday season.  When they arrived, I was disappointed at their size - more appropriate for fat little birthday cake candles than Christmas/Winter candles.  The Lone Star Baby got out her air-dry clay, though, and made some sweet little gifts - little advent wreaths of four tiny-fat candles each in little clay holders.  It was fun to help her and listen as she counted out how many she had and which teachers and staff they were for and how many she had to go.  They are drying now.  I doubt there will be many more Christmases full of her sweet gift-making for everyone so I am soaking this one up.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Texas Voter ID Politics

I would like to comment on something I noticed when I went to vote about the utter horror that is the Texas Voter ID law, now that the Voting Rights Act no longer protects us from these shenanigans. (I know it has been more than a month since Election Day, but this mama has been pretty busy lately.)

Where I voted, at City Hall, there was a big sign at the polls that listed acceptable forms of Photo ID that a citizen could tender in order to exercise the franchise.

One of those acceptable forms of ID was a gun permit.  Know what one of those acceptable forms of ID was not?  

Wait for it....

A student ID.  

Can anyone possibly offer a credible reason for this other than the fact that gun owners are the type of people that the Republicans behind this racist, classist law want to see voting while students are the sort of people that they do not want to see voting?  


Sunday, December 08, 2013

Dumbing Texas Down

For awhile there, Texas was leading the nation in the rigor of its graduation requirements, if not in its terribly underfunded results.  We had, for almost all students, a system of requirements that was nicknamed "4x4" - students had to take four years of English, four years of math, four years of science, four years of social studies and other specific courses.  Which four courses students took in each discipline was determined by which of the three graduation plans the student chose, but even the minimum plan had to take "4x4" and had to pass math through at least Algebra II.

No more.

House Bill 5 was a huge education bill passed this past Session that did the very wonderful thing of scaling back drastically on the standardized testing that is destroying our schools.  Unfortunately, it also did the very horrible thing of setting the stage for the utter decimation of our high school graduation requirements.  This school year, students starting ninth grade could choose between old plans and the new plans - next year's ninth graders will be on the new plans.

The new plans do away with the 4 x 4 requirements, except in English, allowing for fewer math, science and social studies courses, as well as more flexibility in the courses chosen. The new plan also forces students to choose endorsements to guide their coursework  - they must choose either "science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)", "business and industry", "public services",  "arts and humanities", or "multidisciplinary studies".  Only the STEM endorsement requires math through Algebra II, if the SBOE makes their final oversight decision as expected in January.

This highly misguided plot supposedly stems (heh) from the oft passionately pushed hysteria that college is not for everyone and we need more vocational education options for our students.  Such a giant load of ignorance.  It is certainly true that many young people seem ill-suited for the academic life for a variety of reasons (chief among them the poverty which makes so many American students ill-equipped to succeed in school), and it is tempting to look around at highly paid vocations that do not require college and say - why not train these students for useful careers such as these?  The main reason not to fall for this present-oriented thought process is that these students will be working far into the future when we are dead and the world is a very different place requiring an as yet unimaginable skill set.  More and more well-paid vocational jobs are being computerized and mechanized daily and will pretty soon be done primarily by robots, not well-paid heads of households.  Also, many such jobs - like the ones in refineries -  pay well because they are dangerous and many others, such as the fracking jobs, are part of the cycling of boom and bust cycles that do not last.  No one is saying that high school graduates should not take these jobs if they wish, for as long as the jobs last, but they should also graduate with options for when those jobs no longer work for them, or when they want something safer, or when their backs give out, or any of the many things that life throws at us over time.

They should have choices.

That said, the choices should be made by high school graduates, about their future post-secondary school endeavors, not by middle school students and ninth graders.  Middle school students are insane, as you may know if you have ever been one or lived with one or spent time at a middle school.  They are very entertaining and sweet, but they are insane.  Insanity is a symptom of pubescence which often lasts through the seventh grade when we are talking about girls and the ninth grade when we are talking about boys.  It is not a developmental stage during which major life-affecting choices should be made.  It is also not a time when students have developed enough psychologically for most to be ready to be tracked into career categories. Eighth graders are not extremely likely to see the value of choosing a rigorous high school graduation plan and many parents do not have the educational resources to know to force them to do so.  This endorsement system is a nightmare that harkens back to the days when poor and minority students were tracked right out of college preparatory courses.

And it is about to happen again.  We may, in fact, see many cash-strapped districts deciding that certain neighborhood schools don't even need to offer college preparatory coursework - as early as next school year.  Think about it.

Our students will make different choices about what to do with their lives but all of our students need to be well-educated and participatory citizens in our democracy.  Functioning democracies require that.  To be good citizens, they all need to receive a rigorous, well-rounded education and sharp critical thinking skills, not a narrow track of courses that appeal to their adolescent interests.  

Also, every single student who graduates from a Texas high school should have all the knowledge and skills and coursework that they need to attend college if they choose to do so - whether that choice is made directly following high school or many years later.  We owe every student an education that will get them there.

Every student.

Hempstead Sucks

It has been widely reported that principal Amy Lacey at Hempstead Middle School in Hempstead, Texas went on the intercom at school last month and prohibited students from speaking Spanish at school, threatening write-ups and expulsions for students who were caught doing so.  Several teachers are said to have stressed similar policies individually.

Over 50% of the students enrolled at this school are of Hispanic heritage and this outrage is a clear violation of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

I wish the feds would go arrest this racist principal and her racist teachers for violating the rights of these students and an international treaty (and rarely will you ever hear me criticize a teacher, ever).

The racism of this is of course the outrage (!!!!!!!!!) , but could we please talk about the stupidity also?  I am not even Hispanic and have gone to some lengths to send my kids (more successfully with the younger one) to schools where they will gain the Spanish fluency that I, even though I have studied Spanish diligently as an adult, mostly lack.  I would venture to say that any Texas parent (and to a lesser degree any American parent) who is not diligently trying to make sure their children learn Spanish as well as English is frankly blind about education and what will be needed in the future.  The future is coming and it is not going to be one dominated by the white men with which racist Hempstead may be comfortable.

Racist people may not like the fact that we are becoming a multicultural society in which Spanish will soon be the language of the majority, but if they want their kids to be successful in tomorrow's world, they had better get over themselves and adapt....which is kind of funny because that is exactly what they say when they are complaining about how Hispanic people should "speak English" and "assimilate".

This is the 21st century, people.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Last  night, the girls put their shoes under the Christmas tree.  This morning they found them filled with art supplies - a craft shop gift card and two oil paint sharpies for the Girl and eraser clay and watercolor pencils for the Baby.  I hope your shoes are filled with bright joy, too.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela

May we be worthy of his life.

Sick Days And School

It's been kind of a Sick-Day-Semester and the Lone Star Girl has missed way, way too many days of school.  Please say a little St. Nicholas Night prayer that she will stay safe and healthy and have no more sick days this semester.  Please, Santa?  I've been good.  Thank you.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Waiting For the Light

On Sunday, we began our family Advent traditions.   

The Lone Star Baby lit the first girl- rolled beeswax Advent candle, still leftover from last year's making.  

We read the first little book in our Advent calendar and the Lone Star Baby hung it on the little Advent tree.

We put up the first magnetic piece of the nativity scene that is our other Advent calendar.

We moved the Magi down the hall a bit.

Do you have winter traditions in your family? If so, what are they?  I like to read about them.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fall Meets Winter

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.  We did - it has been so nice to have a little time together as a family this past two days without so much of our usual bustling around.
Yesterday, the girls did a lot of schoolwork, but at a reasonable pace.  We nibbled on leftovers all day.  I took down the remaining autumn decorations and took a short walk,  just long enough to achieve what I am calling the Gardenmind state -very nice.

Lone Star Pa put on some holiday music last night and we put up the Christmas tree and all of the holiday decorations.  We got the Advent activities ready.  We read a bit of A Christmas Carol and watched an old Rankin and Bass special.  It was so nice.

Today there will be the Lone Star Baby's school book fair to attend and more schoolwork for the girls and grading for the grown-ups.  Also Girl Scout preparation.  I don't know if we can hold on to the sense of pleasant balance - work and family together - of the last couple of days, but it is so, so sweet when it does emerge.  I hope it is there for you as well this weekend.  Blessings.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Leticia Van de Putte has announced her bid for the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor and Wendy Davis has expressed support for Senator Van de Putte's strong record.

I had sort of been hoping for a Castro brother to run as I must admit to some distrust as to the feminism of the men of Texas, but I find myself thrilled. I love Senator Van de Putte.  When I was a very young legislative aide for Representative Elliott Naishtat in Austin, I remember her efforts to protect children from lead poisoning.  She rocks.

This is an historic ticket, Mamas.  There have never been two women running for the two top statewide offices in Texas before.  Let's win!

Lone Star Citizen Girl

The Lone Star Girl's schoolmates wanted to know if she would buy a pack of cigarettes or go clubbing on her birthday to mark turning 18.  She told them no...she was going to go vote.

Pretty sure our family outing to vote and all the proud photos made the election clerks' day.  They would probably have been even more thrilled if they had seen her studying and debating each of the amendments on the ballot so seriously the way we did.

I am absolutely sure that this was the proudest day of my life so far, hands down.

Friday, November 22, 2013


 My Lone Star Girl turned 18 on Halloween.  It just does not seem possible.  We love her so much and are so bursting-with-pride over the wonderful young woman she has grown up to be.  Don't blink, Mamas....just don't even blink, I'm telling you.

Greetings From The Planet Work

Hello, Faithful Readers ... if I have any left.

Sorry I have been absent for so long.  Things have just been so busy.  It is so late and so dark by the time I get home from work and commuting and get the children (or rather the child and the young adult, I suppose) all sorted and have "time" to do this and all my creativity gets tired out of me.  Usually when things are very busy, I try to catch up on weekends, but the weekends have been non-stop lately.  There have been house guests (okay - one house guest - but Seven Days) and minor illnesses and sad things. 

I shall strive to do better.  

Halloween happened and that was fun!

Baylor offered the Lone Star Girl 65K and she told them she'd think about it if they got rid of their policy of discriminating against gay people.

The Lone Star Baby's volleyball team won the championship in their league.

The most important good thing that has happened, though, is that our Girl turned 18 on Halloween....


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Exciting Times....

The college acceptances are rolling in, someone is turning 18 on Halloween and someone is trying out the Hermione costume.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Gardens

My birthday was in late September and I celebrated by making the family take me to get plants.  I had considered some grandiose schemes to build raised beds using cinder blocks, but cinder blocks were too expensive so I am back to gardening in pots and kiddie pools, along with a couple of stacks of used tires.

I planted one kiddie pool with zucchini, mustard greens, marigolds and kale.  I planted the other with a salad garden of lettuces and nasturtium, marigolds and salad burnet. I have a ghost pepper plant and a chile pequin in pots, along with pots of basil, dill, chives and parsley.  I have a big tomato plant in one pile of tires and a big citronella geranium in another.  I have marigolds and Mothers of Thousands scattered about liberally and I planted sweet peas in just about every pot that had space.  I have a pencil cactus.  The baby fruit trees and the aloe and the gardenias always remain.  There is chocolate mint and begonias (for love) in the hanging garden.

I'm pretty happy with it all.

Monday, October 14, 2013

National Genocide Day

Lone Star Pa and I had school today, but the girls' schools were closed.  On Sunday, the Lone Star Baby said, "Tomorrow is Columbus Day, the day we stay inside our houses in shame."

I may not be able to do much about my ancestors, but I think I am raising the next generation right.

Dengue Fever Found in Houston

According to reports from the Associated Press, a study conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine has found that 47 of the people tested for West Nile Virus in Houston between 2003 and 2005 actually had Dengue Fever, not West Nile Virus.  More recent data is not available but it is posited that the virus is still in Houston.  Dengue fever can be very, very serious - even deadly -  so Texans need to be on the lookout.

 I think Lone Star Ma Magazine needs a tropical diseases correspondent.  Who wants the job?  There's no pay, but it is an important role.

I also think I need an effective mosquito repellent alternative to DEET, as DEET has been making me feel itchy-swollen in recent years. Please do not tell me about your latest herbal remedy - I mean effective.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pumpkin Patch


There was a Battleground Texas training in Corpus Christi on Saturday attended by a very special guest, and guess what Girl was all up in it, taking photos and helping out?


Yup!  The Lone Star Girl!

And guess who the very special guest was?  That's right - the next Governor of the great state of Texas!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Voter Girl

We tried to go to a watch party for Wendy Davis' announcement on October third, but by the time we could get off of work, collect the kids and arrive, it was all over already.  Fortunately, Battleground was still there and guess who will be 18 before November and needed to get registered in time to vote in that election?

 Yesterday, her card arrived in the mail.  We just could not be more proud of this young citizen.


Seasons Gone

Our fall decorations are mostly up and feel very nice.  We have the autumn wreath on the door, and garden flags and big wooden pumpkin cut-outs in the front yard, recently joined by pumpkins from the pumpkin patch.  Inside, we have the nature table all full of autumn decorations and the Lone Star Baby set out all of the fall-themed decorations that she and her sister have made over the years after I dug them out of the "fall box" in the garage.  It's cozy and full of family, and I love it.

This fall is also the beginning of the lasts, though.  Last things with my Lone Star Girl at home with us.

We had the last first day of school with the last plaid dress.  Although she will always be welcome, this may well be the very last autumn that the Lone Star Girl lives under my roof.  I turned 42 in late September and was aware that it might be the last birthday of mine she would spend with me, and we are coming up on Halloween, which may be the last of her birthdays that she is home for a long while at least.  

Thursday evening, we made a late run to the pumpkin patch.  I gave the girls a budget and sent them off to decide what to get.  I watched them conferring, showing each other different pumpkins, moving through the sea of orange together like so many times before...but maybe the last time that I will see them do that together.

I love that Girl so much.  I am excited about her future and all the things she will do...she has been accepted by two colleges already and gets more information in the mail each day on all the scholarships and applications she is daily working on....I am so proud of the woman she is becoming.  I still don't want this to end, though, having her here.  I do, really, for her...but I will miss her so much.


I really love Lone Star Pa.  He does not see unsupervised children everywhere like I do, or feel the need to share with panhandlers until he has no cash left like the Girl and I do, but he has his own special, inner philanthropic self.  Stranded motorists are one of the situations which brings this out in him.  He is every stranded motorist's superhero and when other guys see him pushing a dead car off the road or a stuck car out of the sand, they seem compelled to join in and help.   It's really special.

Friday, October 11, 2013

International Day of The Girl: What Will You Do?

Today is the International Day of The Girl!  This year's theme is Innovating For Girls' Education.

One of the important ways we can attend to education for girls is not just about educating girls, but also about educating boys.  We can integrate into our school curricula positive messages about gender norms that include information about reproductive health and male and female roles in the family and society and that combat violence against women.

What are other ways that we can innovate for girls' education?  Please include your ideas in the comment section .... and get started on them!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Worried About WIC

I know the government shutdown sucks all around, but it seems like different things jump out at everyone. Apart from the public health functions of the CDC and the environmental protection functions of the EPA, the loss that worries me the most is WIC.  I know people are okay so far - my understanding is that they already have this monthly cycle safe and then they have a bit of reserve, but if things go on for more than a month or so, lots of babies and little kids and pregnant women could go hungry.  I hope it doesn't go that far.

Cell Phone Driving Ban in Corpus Christi

I think it's a good thing.  I know that talking on the phone is not really more distracting than many other things people do while driving that are harder to regulate, but it is something and it at least makes a statement about distracted driving.

Biology Girl

Culturing her deadly bacteria friends ... be very afraid.