Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


I am so glad the President vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline.  Holding off climate change - that's why I voted for him again (pretty much all of the why).

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: All Kinds of Families!!

In honor of the first same-sex marriage in Texas this past week, this installment of Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club recommends The Family Book by Todd Parr.  Celebrate all the wonderful diversity of families!

Do you know of more children's books that celebrate all kinds of families to recommend?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Happy World Thinking Day!

Every February 22nd, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides across the globe celebrate World Thinking Day,  a Girl Scout Holiday dedicated to remembering that we are part of a world-wide movement with sisters all around the wonderful, diverse world in which we live, sisters to whom we are dedicated and who we stand beside.

The theme for World Thinking Day this year is Peace Through Partnerships which addresses the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 8:  to develop a global partnership for development.

What can you do to create peace through partnerships?  Think about it today, as the girls all over the world who will build our futures are doing.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Love in Texas

The first same sex marriage in Texas happened in Austin today!  Woo hoo!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Microfinance

In honor of World Thinking Day this coming Sunday, this installment of the Subversive Children's Book Club is about micro-lending and similar endeavors.  Investing in women and girls in developing countries uplifts families.  Enjoy:

  • One Hen:  How One Small Loan Made A Big Difference by Katie Milway Smith
  • Faith The Cow by Susan Bame Hoover
  • Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier
  • Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
  • A Basket of Bangles by Ginger Howard
  • Give A Goat by Jan West Schrock.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Happy Birthday, Susan B.!

Today is Susan B. Anthony's 195th birthday! 

War Powers

I so do not like this.  This whole ill-defined "war on terror" began before my ten-year-old was even planned, much less born ... when my nineteen-year-old was in kindergarten.  Our society has come to see such conflict as normal - business-as-usual -  while our interference the world over just causes more hostility towards us and perpetuates the cycle. 

I will pray for peace. I wish I could say I will vote for peace, too, but it has been so, so long since there was a viable candidate on the national stage who cared about peace at all.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

20 Years

Today marks twenty years that Lone Star Pa and I have been married.  Alongside raising our girls, growing and keeping to this marriage is probably the thing I am most proud of in life.  A whole lot, both good and bad, happens in twenty years and a whole lot changes.  Getting through it all together is hard, but commitment is good for the soul, I think, and I am glad we have worked side by side at it through all those times. I am looking forward to at least twenty more years with Lone Star Pa, as we finish raising this family and see what the next part of our lives after that looks like.  

Happy Anniversary, Lone Star Pa!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Sex Education

Happy Valentine's Week!  In honor of same, this installment of the Subversive Children's Book Club will be about sex education, an area in which many of us parents are apparently falling down on the job if the rates of sexually transmitted infections among young adults are any indication.  Knowledge is power, people.  Ignorance is helplessness.  Below are some very useful classics. Enjoy.

  • It’s So Amazing:  A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families by Robie H. Harris
  • It’s Perfectly Normal:  Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris
  • The Period Book: Everything You Don’t Want to Ask  (But Need to Know) by Karen Gravelle
  • What’s Going On Down There? Answers to Questions Boys Find Hard to Ask  by Karen Gravelle
  • The Care And Keeping of You:  The Body Book for Girls by Valorie Schaefer.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Measles and Vicious Cycles

As the anti-vaccination movement grows, it is just a matter of time before we see an outbreak in Texas of the sort that we are now seeing in California.  I am a pretty crunchy mama in a lot of ways - I think natural childbirth is where it's at and I nursed both of my kids past their fourth birthdays (worked full time, too - I was a super hero in those days), they slept in our bed for years, I have raised them vegetarian and pacifist and in several Montessori schools - you get the picture.

That said, we vaccinate.  Vaccination is very, very important for the health of our children and the safety of our society.

It saddens me to see other mamas of my ilk - educated moms who care enough about the health of their babies to research childbirth and breastfeeding - embracing a lot of inaccurate pseudoscience and unintentionally endangering their kids and everyone's infants by choosing not to vaccinate for diseases, like measles, that can be caught through very casual contact and that spread through schools and daycares like wildfire.  I have lots of friends who won't like this post, but I don't much like the way they have been taken in by pseudoscience myself, not about a lot of things like food and the treatment of various conditions, but especially not about vaccination, where it impacts people outside of their own families so seriously.

That said, I can see very easily how it happens and I think doctors and the pharmaceutical industry frankly have a lot to answer for in the the makings of the anti-vaccination worldview.  

Part of it has to do with the blatant malpractice that so very many obstetricians and pediatricians engage in around the issues of childbirth and breastfeeding.  These days, partly out of the cover-your-butt mentality of doctors trying to avoid lawsuits (ironically resulting in them acting in ways that deserve lawsuits) and partly out of the fact that medicalized childbirth practices have now gone on so long that there are very few doctors left who actually understand anything about natural childbirth, doctors intervene all the time in normal, healthy childbirths in ways that make them riskier for both mother and baby.  Pitocin, epidurals and c-sections are not without risk and tend to be steps that lead to each other in ways that make childbirth less safe for mothers and babies, but doctors do not tell you that.  They do not educate mothers on why they should try their best to have a natural childbirth and how to be successful at it (in most cases) and they push unnecessary interventions so that they can get things over with - a classic example of the maxim that when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.  This malpractice has had long-term consequences on mothers and babies and parents have had to educate themselves to find another way. 

Breastfeeding is the same.  Most doctors seem not to know how to do it successfully.  They apparently learn little about it in medical school.  Even lactation consultants give some very poor advice in my experience.  The kinds of instruction that you get from nursery nurses at the hospital and most pediatricians will have most women bottle-feeding within a week or so unless they are lucky enough to have La Leche League hanging around to deprogram them.  Again, this is malpractice and women generally have to educate themselves in order to be successful in breastfeeding.  

Having started their lives as mothers having to deal with such malpractice, moms who find out about it and learn enough on their own to have natural births and/or to breastfeed successfully are often left with a deep mistrust of the medical profession for pretty obvious reasons.  If their doctors did not know what they were talking about in regards to childbirth and breastfeeding, just why should mothers trust them on anything else?  Some moms start to feel like they are going to have to be the sole expert on their own child's health care decisions.  This is not unreasonable and not totally untrue, but it cannot be done by turning to pseudoscience.  Your average obstetrician and pediatrician may not know jack about normal childbirth and breastfeeding, but your average homeopath or chiropractor quack does not know jack about chemistry or immunology either.  The recommendations of the real scientists, the CDC and the WHO and all those good folk, should be where sane people (mothers, obstetricians and pediatricians) turn.

Another big problem is condescension and over-simplification from doctors.  Many, many doctors really talk to parents like they are stupid and oversimplify things to the point that they are so generalized as to be untrue.  The DTaP vaccine which people receive now for instance, is so much safer than the old DTP with the live virus in it.  While taking it in those days was still much safer than not taking it, doctors refused to talk about the real risks because they were afraid people would choose not to vaccinate.  Today there is the issue that there truly does need to be more research done on how much of some of the inactive ingredients in vaccines, like aluminum, is too much at once for a baby or small child.  We know that too much of many of these ingredients can be dangerous but we do not really know how much is too much.  The amount in any given vaccine is minimal and safe, but what if an infant is given a lot of vaccines at once?  More study on this is definitely needed.  Meanwhile, it happens more and more often because doctors are worried that parents will not come in every week or so to get vaccinations if they are separated so they give as many as they can at once to be sure a kid gets fully vaccinated and protected.  If parents question this, many doctors shut them down and claim this is perfectly safe.  We do not really know if it is perfectly safe - we just know that a child getting fully vaccinated is safer than the child not getting fully vaccinated.  Also, there are vaccine reactions and injuries.  They will happen to some people, just as my daughter is at deadly risk from the pecans and mollusks and ant bites which are perfectly safe for most people.  Your kid is much more likely to die from measles if herd immunity is lost than to get a vaccine reaction and die, but nothing out there is perfectly safeMilk kills some people.  When doctors oversimplify and refuse to discuss risks, many educated parents just stop trusting them.

Also, there have been times when the pharmaceutical industry rushed to get vaccines on the market and promoted in doctors' offices before they were quite ready.  This has resulted in some vaccines being pulled - some of which happened when my eldest was a baby and toddler.  Because of that, I started waiting to get new vaccines for her until the American Academy of Pediatrics put the vaccine on their recommended schedule, as that always happened after there had been some time to see how things were going.

Does this make it okay not to vaccinate because of the irresponsibility of doctors and the greed of the pharmaceutical industry?  Absolutely not.  We need herd immunity.  I think unvaccinated children (for diseases that can be spread by casual contact) should not be allowed in public schools and any infant daycares unless they have a medical exemption.  Period.  I understand why so many parents have been taken in by the pseudoscience when they have been treated the way they have been treated by doctors and I certainly understand what a slippery, scary slope it is to dictate parental choices in any way, but there are private schools and babysitters that still exist for people who choose not to vaccinate.  When contagious epidemics are involved, I think public health has to come first.

I do hope that more doctors will start to see their culpability in the generation of these attitudes and develop more knowledge on birth and breastfeeding and better, more respectful communication skills.  I think it would go a long way towards forming partnerships with parents that will keep our children and society safe.

Get Health Insurance Now!

The deadline to get health insurance for 2015 through the Health Insurance Marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act is February 15th.  That is less than a week away!  If you need to enroll in a plan, go to to get covered today!

Granted, the health insurance requirement can seem tough in Texas since we are one of 19 states that has not opted to expand Medicaid coverage.  The plan under the Affordable Care Act was that states would, with federal assistance, expand Medicaid coverage to cover those who currently earn too much to qualify for Medicaid (for which very few healthy, non-pregnant adults qualify) but too little to afford health insurance premiums.  Since Texas did not do that, there now exists a significant class of people who are required to purchase health insurance but cannot by any means afford to do so, even in the barely-sort-of-way that those of us in the middle class scrape to afford health insurance which is way, way too expensive for all of us.  The overall expense problem would only be solved by a single-payer system, I think - which I am all for - but the gap left by Texas' refusal to expand Medicaid is a more urgent problem. 

For which I think the real answer would be a change in Texas leadership.

Still - it's time to enroll if you haven't. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Black History Month

 In honor of Black History Month, this installment of the Subversive Children's Book Club features books with African American main characters as well as books about important events in African-American history.  Some of the books on the list are novels and some are non-fiction.  Some are mainly entertainment and some are the kind of important literature that takes on racism and educates and empowers.  Enjoy.

Primary and Lower Elementary 
  • If A Bus Could Talk:  The Story of Rosa Parks by Faith Ringgold
  • Ruby Bridges Goes To School:  My True Story by Ruby Bridges
  • Sister Anne’s Hands by Marybeth Lorbiecki
  • Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold 
  • Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
  • A Pocket For Corduroy by Don Freeman
  • Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in The Sky by Faith Ringgold
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
  • More More More, Said The Baby by Vera Williams
  • Just Us Women by Jeannette Cains 
  • Sit-In:  How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  • A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson  
 Upper Elementary
  • One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams Garcia
  • Junebug by Alice Mead
  • Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
  • The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine 
  •  Double Dutch by Sharon Draper
  • Moses:  When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • From Slave Ship to Freedom Road by Julius Lester
  • Like Sisters on The Homefront by Rita Williams Garcia
  •  Tyrell  by Coe Booth
  • Kendra by Coe Booth
  • Fast Talk On A Slow Track by Rita Williams Garcia
  • After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
  • The Hoopster, Hip Hop High School and Homeboyz (a series) by  Alan Lawrence Sitomer
  • My Mother The Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow
  • Al la Carte  by Tanita Davis 
  • Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Patillo Beals.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Contact Information for Your Legislative Representatives

I am having the feeling, Mamas, that the 84th Legislature of the great State of Texas is going to involve a whole lot of Lone Star Ma Mama Action Alerts.  We need to be prepared to call our representatives and weigh in on the legislation that affects our children.  

If you do not know who your state representatives are or how to contact them, one thing I must say is that it is time to step it up as a citizen.  We have responsibilities as well as rights in a democracy and one of those responsibilities is staying informed, so please get on it, Mamas.

A quick way to find your representatives is to go to and type in your address, leaving the drop-down menu below on "All Districts".  The contact information for your various representatives will then come up.  Let's stay on them, Mamas, and make sure Texas takes care of its kids.

Groundhog Tacos

I am not pleased.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Action Alert: Save Our Schoolchildren: Tell Your Representative to Vote NO on H.B. 868

Republican Texas State Representative Dan Flynn has authored the so-called Teacher's Protection Act, H.B. 868, and it must be stopped.

This bill would authorize Texas teachers to use force or deadly force "on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event in defense of the educator's person or in defense of students of the school that employs the educator".  

Get a load of how scary that "school-sponsored event" language is....

The Bill even allows deadly force to be used in defense of property of the school district.

The Bill also grants civil immunity so that educators cannot be held liable when they kill a student.

Now I am an experienced teacher and am 100% pro-teacher but every teacher in this state with a lick of sense knows that even being allowed to be armed in schools now is just about the world's worse idea, and this one just exacerbates the horrors of it.  Schools can be scary places sometimes.  They are underfunded and overcrowded and sometimes filled with young people on the edge of desperation.  If you are going to be a teacher, you should be willing to risk your life for those students, not take theirs to protect yourself.  

I have put my body between students to protect them and I have been assaulted in the process of doing that.  I would never harm a student to protect myself or in the protection of another student, though.   I certainly would never kill a student. No sane teacher would do this.

Not using deadly force is  a hard decision to make in the heat of the moment, though, when you are in real danger and you are afraid.  You might make the wrong choice at such a moment if you had a gun on you.  You need to not have the gun that makes it easy to act out of fear in that moment.  You need to not choose that profession if you cannot go into it unarmed and willing to be that brave.

Please call your legislators today, Mamas, and tell them you categorically reject H.B. 868 and that they must vote against it. (You District Two Mamas might also want to seriously consider voting this scary Rep. Flynn out of office as well, please.)

Hurry, Mamas. Please.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.  It is so important to raise our kids to have the knowledge and support they need to have healthy, safe relationships filled with respect for their partners.  Here are some good resources to that end: