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.