Tuesday, March 31, 2015

April Fools (Or March Ones)

Today the Texas House voted in favor of a budget amendment to cut $3 million from HIV and AIDS prevention programs and give it to abstinence-based sex (so-called) education programs. Wouldn't it be nice if they all started laughing, said April Fools!, and let us know it was just a prank?

I wish.

The Eyes of Pearson Are Upon You

My fifth grader is taking a STAAR test today.  She does not have any social media accounts yet, but if she did I would be livid-pissed about the fact that Pearson, the world's largest "education" company (read: corporate testing giant) is "monitoring" social media for mention of their tests these days...not just during testing, mind you, but even in the days that follow.  I take that back - I don''t think I could be more pissed than I already am.  Pearson has said that they are obligated to alert authorities if there is any breach in testing security.

I do not believe I have authorized Pearson to spy on my child.  Have you authorized Pearson to spy on your child?  It is very hard for me to allow my child to participate int his madness as it is and things like this push me just about to the edge.

I want the Lege to forbid this in Texas. What are we going to do about it, Mamas?

Monday, March 30, 2015

La Marcha

Lone Star Pa and the Lone Star Baby and I went to the Cesar Chavez Marcha & Celebration on Saturday.  It was inspiring.  Cesar Chavez is my hero.  I met him once before he passed, when he came to speak at the university I attended when I was just a callow youth.

Friday, March 27, 2015


What a scary day yesterday seemed to be for many people in this country.  Prayers for those affected by the Salado bridge collapse in Texas and the explosion in New York, and for those affected by tragedy everywhere.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Women In Science

This late installment of Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club, also in honor of Women's History Month, features books about women in science.  Enjoy!
  • Of Numbers and Stars:  The Story of Hypatia by  D. Anne Love
  • Maria's Comet by Deborah Hopkinson
  • Rare Treasure:  Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries by Don Brown
  • Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World by Laurie Lawler
  • The Watcher:  Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps by Jeannette Winter

Saturday, March 21, 2015

There Is No Gryffindor

Awhile back my daughter and I were having our regular argument about Hufflepuff (she thinks they are lame and I think they are the best), during which she presented a theory she said she read some-random-where which posited that, really, no one is truly sorted into Gryffindor like they are sorted into Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.  Really...really...everyone is either a Slytherin (Harry), a Ravenclaw (Hermione) or a Hufflepuff (Ron).  What makes someone a Gryffindor is that they ask to be one, and the hat grants their request because they were brave enough to ask.

There Is No Gryffindor!!!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Searching for Nick Fury

My spouse wishes to watch every single movie or television episode to the very end of the credits, no matter what it is, in case Nick Fury is going to come out and talk about the Avengers Initiative.  Dora episodes?  My Little Pony?  Cupcake Wars?  It doesn't matter.  All of them.  Just in case.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


My writing's been kind of dead for the last year and a half or so.  This blog is pretty much it unless you count work stuff.  I always had the issue of finding time, of course, and always had tons of ideas that just languished and stacks of unfinished manuscripts...but lately everything writer-ly has languished.  Just everything.  I still have the ideas but just no energy to get them on the page.  So busy, so tired.  The lack of motivation to do it is a little scary - I think I have written less in this period than at any time in the last 19 years.  I am going to just think of it as a season and try not to feel maudlin about it.

Action Alert: Protect Doctors' Right To Promote Public Health Through Gun Safety

If you take your kid to well checks at the doctor's office, you know that they ask you if you have a firearm in your home.  If you do, they talk to you about how to store it safely when kids are around.  They also ask you if anyone smokes in your home, about your child's fruit and vegetable consumption, your child's exercise habits, if your child is properly restrained in her car seat/booster seat/safety belt in the car and if she wears a helmet when riding a bicycle, among other things.  Addressing issues that impact the health and safety of children is part of a pediatrician's job.  A bill filed by Representative Spritzer of Kaufman would change that, though.  HB 2823 would forbid doctors from asking about guns in the home out of fear that it would give the federal government a record of who has them (um, you don't really have to answer any question your doctor asks if you don't want to, people), and would empower the Texas Medical Board to punish physicians who ask about guns, as practicing bad medicine.  Frighteningly, a similar bill has already passed and been upheld in Florida.

The bill still allows psychiatrists to ask, as it tries to frame the issue as a mental health one, but - totally setting aside the fact that more mental health issues present in the offices of primary care doctors and in emergency rooms than ever go to a psychiatrist - suicide concerns are not really the point of doctors asking that question - public health and safety is the point.  Particularly of children, who are often killed because of their parents' inappropriate storage of firearms.

One more example of Republicans interfering in the practice of medicine with dangerous consequences for women and children.

Please call your State Representative and ask them to vote against HB 2823, Mamas. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Action Alert: Open Carry

Mamas, the Texas Senate has already passed a bill allowing the open carry of firearms in public.  It is headed to the House, so please contact your State Representative and tell them you do not want your children surrounded by visions of deadly weapons in every public place they go.

Spring Stirrings

I am loving the sound of my neighbor's chickens.  I never used to hear them, but they have gotten more vocal lately.  It is so cool.  I kind of want some but I honestly do not need to be taking on any more responsibilities at all.  

I am going to try to put in some spring vegetables and that will just have to do.

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Malala Yousafzai

Still in honor of Women's History Month, this installment of the Subversive Children's Book Club is also in honor of Malala Yousafzai, one brave young woman, whose example shows all of our daughters how brave and powerful they can be.  Enjoy:

  • Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery by Jeannette Winter
  • Malala Yousafzai;  Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya
  • Dear Malala,  We Stand With You by  Rosemay McCarney
  • I Am Malala:  The Girl Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai.

Action Alert: Defeat Campus Carry

I may be too late on this one.  I have been so busy with the minutiae of my daily work/mama life that I did not know this was already up for a hearing until yesterday during the actual committee hearing.  I called all the members of the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety and asked them if it was too late to register an opinion and they all said no, so I explained to them all why I hoped they would vote against HB 937, a bill that would allow people to carry handguns on college campuses and that would not allow public universities to opt out of allowing it.  It looks like the bill has not been voted on yet, so please drop everything and call the members of this committee, Mamas.  Right, right now.

Campus carry is a terrible idea, Mamas.  College is a very transitional time for newly minted adults.  Many of them are away from home for the first time and face a difficult adjustment.  Binge drinking is epidemic.  It also coincides with the age range when most organic mental illnesses first present, sadly while young people are sometimes away from home without the support system of their families.  All of these things mix badly with firearms.  The ability of our universities to prohibit fire arms on campus should not be taken away from them.  Your babies may be attending college in the future if not now - you want them to be safe.

Please contact the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety and tell them to vote against HB 937.  It is probably going to pass unless a whole lot of mamas speak up right now.

Chair:Rep. Larry Phillips
Vice Chair:Rep. Poncho Nevárez
Members:Rep. DeWayne Burns

Rep. Tony Dale

Rep. Eric Johnson

Rep. Will Metcalf

Rep. Joe Moody

Rep. Molly S. White

Rep. John Wray.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Happy Birthday, Girl Scouts USA!

Today is the 103rd Anniversary of the founding of Girl Scouts of the USA!  Hurray!  103 years of courage, confidence and character!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Herstory

In honor of Women's History Month, this installment of the Subversive Children's Book Club features books about herstory, which we do not learn enough of in our schools thanks to bodies like the Texas State Board of Education with its love of curricula featuring Dead White Guys Only.  We can find herstory without textbooks when we have to, though.  We can even make it.  Enjoy.

Books About Herstory for Kids

  • Cool Women: The Thinking Girl’s Guide to the Hippest Women in History By Pam Nelson
  • Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
  • The Ballot Box Battle By Emily Arnold McCully
  • Dolores Huerta:  A Hero To Migrant Workers By Sarah E. Warren
  • You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer By Shana Corey
  • The Librarian of Basra  By Jeannette Winter
  • Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride By Pam Munoz Ryan
  • The Value of Friendship: The Story of Jane Addams By Ann Donegan Johnson
  • Wangari's Trees of Peace By Jeannette Winter
  • Rare Treasure: Mary Anning And Her Remarkable Discoveries By Don Brown
  • Maria’s Comet By Deborah Hopkinson
  • Almost Astronauts:  13 Women Who Dared To Dream By Tanya Lee Stone

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Happy International Women's Day!

Today is International Women's Day, a day to honor the suffragettes who fought for women's right to vote and for recognizing the accomplishments women have and will make in our world.

Today I want to honor Jane Addams, the mother of social work (March is Social Work Month as well as Women's History Month) and a hero of mine, for the work she did for vulnerable populations in our nation's history and also my daughter, who is throwing herself into the work of preparing and organizing  to help our world's vulnerable populations in the future.

Who would you like to honor today?

Outdoor Skills Day!

Took the Juniors to Outdoor Skills Day at the Girl Scout camp yesterday.  Archery, orienteering, building tent shelters, boating ... it was great.  That's my baby in the photos with the bow and the compass. Whenever we go to Girl Scout events like that, I am always left thinking how school should be like that for kids.

Below is me, worrying about the girls out in the boat alone for the first time - see them waaay out there?  -  and hoping they figure out how to paddle it back to shore.  They did!

Friday, March 06, 2015

The State of Texas Children - 2015 Numbers

KIDS COUNT is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation which provides about the most comprehensive sets of data on the different indicators that measure the well-being of children in the United States that you could hope to find.  The Center For Public Priorities (CPPP) is the home of the Texas Kids Count Project. They have recently released their 2015 State of Texas Children report and it is pretty grim in a lot of ways.  Although Texas has had a wealthy couple of years with the shale gas boom and our coffers are full to bursting, Texas children have not benefited from the largesse.  The National KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Texas the 43rd best place in the nation to be a kid in terms of economic well-being, health, education and family and community factors.  Twenty-five percent of Texas children - that is 1 in 4 - live in poverty.  With 7 million children in Texas, that is a whole lot of kids in poverty.

We can do better, Texas.  Let's start voting for real representation - for a government that will invest in our future - - our kids.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

World Book Day

Hey, it's World Book Day!  How cool is that?

What are you reading these days? 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Strong Girl Characters

In honor of Women's History Month, this installment of the Subversive Children's Book club features fiction books with strong girl characters.  Enjoy!

Primary and Lower Elementary:

  • A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams
  • Madeline By Ludwig Bemelmans
  • Just Us Women by Jeannette Caines
  • The Ramona Books By Beverly Cleary
  • Tatterhood and the Hobgoblins Retold by Lauren Mills
  • Little Women By Louisa May Alcott
  • The Anne of Green Gables Books By L.M. Montgomery
  • Seven Brave Women by Betsy Hearne 

Upper Elementary and Teen:
  • The Tequila Worm By Viola Canales
  • One Crazy Summer & P.S. Be Eleven By Rita Williams-Garcia  
  • Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes 
  • The Betsy-Tacy Books By Maud Hart Lovelace (the later ones) 
  • The Alice Books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor  
  • Like Sisters on The Homefront by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • The Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewski.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Women's History Month Movies

Happy Women's History Month!  

I always think we will do some kind of awesome social justice movie series in real life and invite people over to watch stuff like this, but it never really seems to happen.  Here are some movies I like with feminist themes:

  • Iron-Jawed Angels (my all time very favorite)
  • Entertaining Angels 

(so what is it with angels?)

  • Norma Rae
  • Thelma and Louise
  • 9 to 5
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Erin Brokovich.

 What are your favorite feminist movies?


Sunday, March 01, 2015

First Day School: Sadako and Peace

We finished reading about Sadako and her paper cranes today in First Day School.  We wrapped up our history of America's modern wars and how the peace testimony has been witnessed during them.  We are going to move on to talking about the integrity testimony next Meeting but the peace testimony will still be very present as we read bits of The Eye of The Heron each time.