Thursday, August 28, 2014

National Breastfeeding Month: Don't Hide It

Lone Star Ma's final theme for the last week of National Breastfeeding Month is Breastfeed In Public.  One of the reasons that our culture is so unfriendly to breastfeeding in the United States is because we are largely unfamiliar with it and people tend to fear that with which they are unfamiliar.  People see babies being fed with bottles all the time, so bottle feeding = normal to them.  People rarely ever see people breastfeeding an infant so breastfeeding = strange to them.  There is not really any way to change this unless people start seeing breastfeeding all around them as a routine part of their daily lives as humans who are out and about in public places.

Texas law protects a woman's right to breastfeed in any place where she would otherwise be allowed to be.  Here is the law:

Sec. 165.002. RIGHT TO BREAST-FEED. A mother is entitled to breast-feed her 
baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 600, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1995."

And here's a tip:  we all know stories of nursing mothers who got chucked out of public places and directed to bathrooms.  Guess what?  I was definitely the boldest mother I ever encountered in terms of nursing in public (all the public places!) and people never, ever hassled me in public, including in places where other mothers got hassled plenty.  Why?  

I had the look of someone with whom they did not want to tussle.  

Practice bold, assertive eye contact and be confident in your right to be nursing your baby where you are.  It may not work everywhere, but it will work a lot better than being timid about it will.

Now, get out of the bathrooms and take your baby out in the sunshine, Mamas (Vitamin D and all that)!  Happy National Breastfeeding Month!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Women For Leticia

The Lone Star Family was phone banking for Leticia Van de Putte for Lt. Governor of Texas tonight because women's equality matters!

"At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?" - Senator Leticia Van de Putte

Greg Abbott Would Veto Equal Pay For Women

Remember, Mamas: when Wendy Davis championed legislation to allow women to more easily sue employers for pay discrimination in Texas, Rick Perry vetoed the bill and Greg Abbott, Republican candidate for Governor, said he would have done the same.  Wendy cares about equal pay for women and economic security for our families.  Greg Abbott thinks it is fair for men to be paid more for equal work.

Get out the vote for equality in Texas!

Happy Women's Equality Day!

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

-19th Amendment to the United States Constitution,  passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, ratified on August 18, 1920 and certified on August 26, 1920.

Thanks to women like Lucretia and Susan and Alice and Elizabeth, we have the vote.  Go out there and make that vote count so we can have true equality, Mamas!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Once She Was Just A Baby .... Now She's A Grown Woman

Mothers, beware.  I know the days are long, but the years really are as short as they say.  Even shorter.  Before you know it,  they fly away...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

National Breastfeeding Month: Pumping Support And Stories

Getting good support is essential to successfully pumping breast milk for your baby while you are working outside the home.  La Leche League International (LLLI) runs the best support network for nursing mothers, but it is true that it attracts a lot of mothers who are not employed outside the home and employed mothers often find that some meetings have a culture that does not support their needs.  This is usually a "Morning Meeting" issue, though.  In communities of any size, there are usually "Evening Meetings" as well as "Morning Meetings" each month and those evening meetings are where employed mothers can usually find the mother-to-mother support they need from LLLI.  It is great to start going when you are pregnant, but it is never too late to start.

The following are some excellent books that offer great information and support for breastfeeding mothers who are employed outside the home:

  • Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gale Pryor
  • Hirkani's Daughters: Women Who Scale Modern Mountains To Combine Breastfeeding And Working by Jennifer Hicks (Lone Star Ma has an essay in this one)
  • The Milk Memos by Cate Colburn-Smith and Andrea Serrette.
It is important to tell our stories.  The personal is political.  We support each other more than we ever know when we share our stories.  

Do you have any pumping stories to share?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bridging To Adult Girl Scouting

My Ambassador Girl Scout Troop bridged to Adult Girl Scouting on Sunday.  The Lone Star Girl was in this troop for thirteen years.  I was its Leader for eight years, with a break in the middle starting when I had the Lone Star Baby.

Another First Day of School, Another Plaid Dress

The Environmental Impact of Beef

A rigorous study published in June in the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences suggests that beef production is much more damaging to the environment than the production of other sources of protein. 

Beef production uses 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water than production of protein sources lower on  the food chain like poultry, eggs and even dairy.  Beef production is also responsible for much larger emissions of greenhouse gases and consumes much larger amounts of nitrogen than other forms of protein production.

The study suggests that cutting down on red meat would have a bigger impact on carbon reduction than abandoning cars.

Serious stuff.

Gold Award Project Report

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Valley Girl

 Almost time for her to fly....

National Breastfeeding Month: Pumping At Work & Breast Pumps

 Lone Star Ma's theme for this week of National Breastfeeding Month is Pumping At Work.

Let's not mince words:  pumping breast milk for your baby while you work is really hard.  It takes discipline and a whole lot of effort and is largely going to be the main thing on your mind while you are doing it, after the baby herself and any other children you may have.   It takes dedication, good equipment, preparation, and the courage to advocate for yourself and your baby.  Pumping is not for wimps.

That said, it is completely and totally worth it. 

The health benefits your infant receives from breast milk cannot be overstated.  This is particularly true when your infant is hanging out in group childcare while you work.  You go nurse your little one on your lunch break or at drop-off and pick-up and you be sure to play with all the other babies in the room and get huggy with the childcare providers as much as possible.  That way, you get exposed to every germ they have, you make antibodies for those germs that get distributed in your milk and your baby stays healthy.  It's a gorgeous system.  Nursing also makes you healthier, makes your baby smarter and keeps the two of you quite necessarily close and bonded.

It's worth it, but it is hard.

Be sure to have a plan.  Discuss your needs (nursing breaks in a private space with an outlet:  not a bathroom) with your employer ahead of time and get a good pump.  

Let me be clear about good pumps.  If you are working anything approaching full-time, you need a Medela brand double electric pump.  There are several versions and I cannot keep up since my children are weaned with what is the latest as those gorgeous geniuses at Medela are always coming up with better and better models, so do your research, but it is something like the Medela Pump-In-Style Advanced that you need.  Medela does not pay me anything, I promise, and I am telling you the truth here:  do not get any other brand.  Other breast pumps can be good for date night, taking a class, occasional part-time work.  Only Medela will do for full-time work.  Don't play.  I'm serious.  It will be hard enough with the Medela.  Eat beans and rice or whatever you have to do, but get the Medela.  

Is that clear?


The Affordable Care Act now requires that insurance plans cover the cost of breast pumps but it does not say what kind of breast pumps and many plans may not cover Medela double electric pumps.  Most plans require that you get that pump from a covered DME provider. Some may be willing to let you pay the difference between what you want and what they cover.  Do your homework.  Bureaucracy is hard but this is good practice for dealing with the fun stuff like pediatric hospital billing departments and university financial aid offices which are certainly in your future.  

Good luck!!  Be strong!!  You can do it!!

Fingers Crossed!

The Lone Star Girl turned in her Gold Award Project Report on Friday!  It may be awhile before we hear from the Committee, but, whatever happens, we are so proud of her!!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I know it is not the first time this has ever happened, but it is probably the first time it happened to Michael Brown's family and it is reprehensible.  That poor child and his poor, grieving family.

If you are a police officer in Ferguson, Walk Away.  Don't participate in the violence, don't participate in the cover-up and media blackout.  

Walk Away.

 Better yet - tell your colleagues to stop.  Help people.  Don't become this.

*****Update**** - It looks like Missouri State Troopers have taken control from the Ferguson police.  Hopefully, things may improve.

National Breastfeeding Month: Take The Formula Ad Challenge

The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes explicitly states that there should be absolutely no promotion of breastmilk substitutes to the general public.  Unfortunately, the United States pays no attention to the WHO Code and formula companies are allowed to brazenly advertise as much as they wish in the United States.  Not only do we live in a country where "bottle" is a regular symbol for "baby" and where women are routinely chucked out of public places for nursing their children, but new mothers, who may have never really observed a breastfeeding dyad (due to the chucking) and who may be struggling to establish their milk supplies with little support from ignorant health care providers, are bombarded with images of bottle feeding in magazines and on television.  This wears down a woman's confidence in her ability to breastfeed and convinces her that bottle feeding is what is "normal" and that breastfeeding is just too challenging, resulting in missed opportunities for both baby and mother to be as healthy as they are meant to be.

This week, in honor of National Breastfeeding Month, take Lone Star Ma's  Formula Ad Challenge to learn about the extent of this violation of the WHO Code.  Go look at some parenting magazines whose target audience is parents of babies and toddlers.  Try to find one without any formula ads.  Were you able to find one?  Count the formula ads you find and count the images of breastfeeding mothers that you find in the magazines you peruse.  What was the count of each?  How do you think this impacts breastfeeding establishment?

Back To School Bump

The Lone Star Baby's school was supposed to start today, but they e-mailed us Tuesday afternoon (!) that they are not quite ready (they have moved) and that school will not start until Monday....hopefully.  This has not caused much scrambling for us this time around as the Lone Star Girl is still home to help, but I do wonder what changes to the school calendar it will mean and if they really will be back to school Monday! 

Bumper Thumper

One comforting thing about this not-very-comforting summer was that we got to stop in Austin on our ways to and from visiting family and visit all of the hippy bookstores we love, something we like to do as a family, and I got to get bumper stickers at Book Woman.  I have always loved bumper stickers, my personal billboards, but since I got a new-to-me car in the summer of 2013, I had not been to Austin where the good bumper stickers are.  Now I have been and it feels more like my car.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Reading; The Alice Books

When my baby sister was a kid, I started getting her the Alice books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.   The books went on and on so I kept getting them for her and, when she was old enough, I started getting them for the Lone Star Girl, too.  I am about to start getting them for the Lone Star Baby and the Lone Star Niece, although I know I will have to hunt for them and order them now because the last book in the series has finally come out, Now I'll Tell You Everything, and bookstores are not really carrying the earlier books much anymore.

I love the Alice books because they are about an open-minded girl who learns and grows.  Alice is not a prude and she decides her own mind - she is not just a convenient moral fable for kids.  She is not a fantastic student, she is far from perfect.  She is caring, though, and she is curious and she has a great deal of integrity.  I highly recommend the Alice books for any growing-up girls in your life.  Not counting the prequels, they start when Alice is in 6th grade with  The Agony of Alice and continue until she is an older woman.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

National Breastfeeding Month

August is National Breastfeeding Month, so the breastfeeding posts continue.  Lone Star Ma has a theme each week for National Breastfeeding Month.  Last week's was World Breastfeeding Week and the MDGs.  This week, my theme is the World Health Organization (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

The World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in 1981.  The WHO Code, as it is often referred to, exists to protect and promote breastfeeding by providing good information on appropriate infant feeding and through the regulation of the marketing of breastmilk substitutes. 

The code states that there should be absolutely no promotion of breastmilk substitutes to the general public and that neither health facilities nor health professionals should promote breastmilk substitutes.  It states that free samples should not be provided to pregnant women, new mothers or families. Research has shown that the advertising and promotion of formula and the provision of free samples undermines breastfeeding at the point when many are struggling to establish their milk supplies.

Since 1981, 84 countries have enacted legislation implementing all or many of the provisions of the WHO Code.  The United States has done nothing. 

For those of you who have delivered babies in hospitals, were you given free samples of formula by the hospital or by your doctor or did free samples arrive by mail because your health care providers sold your information to formula company mailing lists? 

What can we do to promote more Baby-Friendly practices in our hospitals and from our health care providers?

Random Sunday

The Lone Star Baby is having a ruthless spate of room cleaning, emerging every once in awhile to ask "Is this special?" before she chunks something.  It is a bit scary but I am glad she possesses the impulse.  We have come to a compromise on the scope of continued math and reading practice once school starts and I do hope it holds. Also, I am making her wear her glasses.  And her school simply will not answer questions about morning and aftercare arrangements even though it starts Thursday.

The Lone Star Girl is working on her Gold Award Report.

I am treating a terrible headache (we spent much of yesterday shopping for and then visiting people because everyone seems to be in the hospital now and I think headaches are one of my ways of worrying about sick people besides books and bears) with coffee and cicada songs and fiction but I need to get up and do looking-through-important-college-things for Eldest and calling-all-the-people things and Girl Scout things and cooking things and bill paying and all such manner of things.

Sometimes I wish our house had a hallway (not as much as I wish the one bathroom was not falling apart or that the furnace was not on its last legs) for painting murals on, but bungalows don't.  Hallways are such a waste of space, really, except for painting murals on, so if you have one, do be sure to paint a mural on it.  Now.  Hurry.

I don't know what Lone Star Pa is doing but I think he is probably trying unsuccessfully to nap in between times when the Lone Star Baby comes in and says "Is this special?" He has been doing fabulous cleaning work of his own in our room recently, clearing out his piles although I do not think he will quite finish before school starts.  He even, just for me,  made room for the gorgeous little card catalog table/desk/hutch thing that I love that our beloved neighbors gave us last summer before they dreadfully moved.  It had been living in the garage and he got it all sanded and cleaned and placed in our room as an extremely early birthday present to me (but I shall still be 42 for quite a long time yet).

To work!

Humanity Is Borderless

Yesterday evening the girls and I attended a prayer vigil hosted by our neighbors, the Sisters of The Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, to show solidarity with immigrants crossing South Texas borders.  A Humanity is Borderless - Corpus Christi group is forming to advocate for immigrants.  You can keep up with their activities at:

Thursday, August 07, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week: Breastfeeding and the MDGs

In 1990, the United Nations set eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), meant to be achieved by 2015, to fight poverty and promote healthy and sustainable development.  We have a looong way to go, as a world, if we are going to meet these goals.  And we should meet them.  We should help each other survive and thrive. 

 Breastfeeding can help in major ways. 

Below is how the United Nation's Scientific Committee on Nutrition illustrated how breastfeeding is linked to each of the MDGs:

Action Alert: Support Leticia Van De Putte, A Candidate Who Cares About Texas Education

On Tuesday, Leticia Van De Putte, candidate for Lt. Governor of Texas, released her plan for education. All over the state, teachers and families are rejoicing that there is finally a candidate who seems to both understand and care about the education of our children.  It's so nice to have someone in the election for whom a parent can actually want to vote! 

The key points of Leticia's plan for education in Texas are:

  • Restore full-day funding to quality Pre-K programs
  • Reduce class sizes in Pre-K classrooms
  • Restore funding stolen in 2011 budget cuts
  • Invest in hiring and retaining teachers and give them the resources they need to succeed
  • Support programs that support disadvantaged students
  • End high stakes testing and teaching to the test
  • Expand access to broadband so students can access what technology has to offer
  • Make sure that virtual schools meet state standards 
  • Make sure that charters are controlled by in-state parents and meet state standards

 Now, Mamas:  we have to get her elected.  Start talking to people, start walking the neighborhoods and making the calls, start marching...the children of Texas are counting on it!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

THE EPA Fights Climate Change

Since Congress is doing nothing to prevent climate change and save our children from a future as environmental refugees and a present as asthma sufferers and cancer patients, the President (who I do not generally agree with much, but this why I would vote for him again over the EPA-hating Republicans) instructed the EPA to do something back in 2013. 

In June of 2014, the EPA released the proposed rules known as the Clean Power Plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30% from 2005 levels.  The polluters and the Republicans are up in arms that these standards would be the death our economy, but the truth is that a want of these standards is leading to the death of us all.

Please tell your Congress-folks that you support the EPA's Clean Power Plan.  We are mothers and we need to protect our families from climate change.  We can build a green economy if we stop making excuses for polluters.  Please call them today.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week: Early Initiaton of Breastfeeding

UNICEF and the World Health Organization, in partnership with numerous other agencies devoted to maternal and child health, have developed a brochure on the importance of the early initiation of breastfeeding.  These organizations want us to spread the word that we know how to raise rates of early initiation and successful breastfeeding.  The research shows that we need to:

  • Implement Baby-Friendly policies in maternity hospitals
  • Train health workers (because they certainly are not so trained now!) to provide individual breastfeeding counseling and support within one hour of birth
  • Encourage immediate skin-to-skin contact between baby and mother after birth, including after c-sections
  • Provide post-natal care through home visits
  • Identify and address cultural barriers to breastfeeding
  • Educate pregnant women and their families about the dangers of not breastfeeding immediately and of giving other fluids instead
  • Expand group education and support groups (get thee to a La Leche League Meeting!)
  • Advocate for enforcement of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent World Health Assembly resolutions (boycott Nestle!).
 For more information, go to the World Alliance For Breastfeeding Action website's WBW page and download the brochure!



Constitutional Scholar Girl

We made another trip to Edinburg this past weekend!

The Lone Star Girl had applied for a scholarship (by writing an essay on the constitutional validity of the Roe v. Wade decision in light of its medical and scientific arguments) through a Constitutional Scholars program at UTPA and had been called for an oral interview a few weeks ago and then informed that she was a finalist and would, with 14 others,  get a scholarship at the end of the one-year program and that the awards banquet was Saturday night.  We went and it turned out she was the big winner and is getting a very big scholarship after the program year.  So exciting!  

We are proud of our constitutional scholar girl!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Remembering Celia

Today is the 44th anniversary of Hurricane Celia!  I do not remember Celia because I was not born yet, but I know it was a great tragedy for our city.  My mom and dad lived, at the time, in one of those little apartments in a house on Elizabeth and it literally blew away around them as they huddled in the bathroom trying to keep the door shut with a razor blade.  Luckily, they were mostly alright (my dad got a cut on his back) and were able to make it to my grandparents' house on Flynn Parkway, which withstood the storm well.  Many were not so lucky. 

Do you have memories of Hurricane Celia?

Donate Button Is Live for W.B. Ray Class of 2014 Global Citizen Scholarship!

The annual scholarship for a Ray High School senior that the Lone Star Girl is organizing for her Girl Scout Gold Award Project now can be donated to online through the Coastal Bend Community Foundation's website! 

Information about the project can be found at: 

To donate, please go to and select "W.B. Ray Class of 2014 Global Citizen Scholarship" from the drop down menu and make your online donation.  

The Lone Star Girl really needs to meet her goal this week so she can complete her Gold Award Report before she leaves for college!  Any help would be greatly appreciated, so please spread the word, especially among those with a connection to Ray High School! 


Friday, August 01, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week!  This year's theme is "Breastfeeding - A Winning Goal - For Life!  Protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding is a life-saving goal!  More later this week on how protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding ties in to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals!