Archive for January, 2010

A Girl Can Dream

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

I’ve written about Bunco, already. I was skeptical at first about a bunch of suburban women sitting around throwing dice and drinking wine, visions of 1950s Bridge Clubs, cucumber sandwiches and petit-fours in my head, but I love my Bunco group.

We had Bunco last night. It is usually on a Thursday, but this month, we had it on Friday. I think we all knew that would be both a good and bad thing, in the vein of “it seemed like a good idea at the time to finish off the bottle.” There is something scary about 20 women getting together without husbands or kids for drinking on a Friday night, with few Saturday obligations. (Jenn and Megan, i am so sorry about those ill-timed birthday parties and Math Bowls!) It is even scarier when half of them are dressed in 1980s workout gear.

Tara wins for creativity. Quite a feat to show up pregnant with twins, unable to drink, but wearing a Lakers outfit with matching high-heeled Converse kicks. The Converse, found for $3.99 at Value Village, were the hit of the party, and I am not sure who they ended up going home with after we all tried them on, but somewhere in my neighborhood, there is a husband (or a Kathy, perhaps?) who last night probably thought, “Aw, yeah! What do we have here?” and then quickly found him or herself clutching the covers, sucking a thumb, wondering when, oh when, it would be over.

Our hostess, Stacy H., managed to dig her original 80s dance clothes out of her attic, including some crazy knit bodysuit, and even more amazingly fit into them. I would be terrified if anyone tried to fit me into something, anything, i wore in high school. Shiny headbands, leg warmers, and off-the-shoulder Flashdance sweatshirts were de rigueur.

And then there were those of us who just showed up in our sweats and tees, there for the booze and the dice.

The wine was flowing freely (and I am thanking god today that I chose to bring beer last night), and we got started rolling late, so by the time we were done with three rounds, we were well in our cups. I know that everyone thinks i mean tipsy, but people who are a little tipsy don’t accidentally lock themselves in their neighbor’s bathroom, unable to get out. Twice. Wine glasses were smashed, and music was cranked up. Of course, I am kind of a music snob, and I had never heard half of the songs because I don’t listen to 95.5 The Beat (Lisa, you would be in your element, here), but it really doesn’t matter, because I am missing the dancing gene anyways. The one that makes women get tipsy and dance with each other? It just doesn’t come naturally to me. These girls? They got the gene.

So, instead, i enjoyed watching them do the Beyonce dances, while drinking beer with Lauren (she danced a bit, but evidently does not quite have the gene either) and Stacy’s husband Mike, who oddly enough, went to my high school. Mike had hit the mother lode, as he had a bunch of drunk women dancing for him in his living room. We ladies also may or may not have broken things and then made Mike clean them up, taking pictures of him when he bent over to sweep up the glass, but that part is a little fuzzy.

A good time was had by all, and i rolled into bed at almost 3.

Did i mention the food was great? Lots of great Weight Watcher’s choices. I managed to stay within my extra points for the week, which is a bit of a miracle. I just can’t eat anything else until Monday morning. But I will have no trouble abstaining, now that I know there is a chance I could really work hard and take care of my body, and do a lot of that “She’s a Maniac” dance step, and someday get a slot in the lineup of the Bunco Hos Solid Gold Dance Revue. . . someday.

A girl can dream.

Dekalb Board of Ed Budget Meeting Summary

Friday, January 29th, 2010

I attended the Dekalb County schools budget meeting with Tonna, the parent of one of Rollie’s classmates. We got there and were amazed at the number of police and news crews. Parents, dressed in red to show their support for their kids’ educational programs, were everywhere. Most of the teachers were wearing black to protest the budget cuts. We went in and sat down, started talking to other parents. It was sad to hear how far-reaching these cuts would be, how it would affect Montessori programs, magnet programs, pre-k programs, special Ed, the Arts, music, and P.E., and it was heartening to see how many parents actually care.

We sat with some other parents from our own school. Before the meeting, people were allowed to sign up for a chance to speak for two minutes, with 30 people getting slots for a total of one hour. The hour went by quickly, though, with parents, teachers, and citizens concerned over their property values carefully and respectfully laying out their arguments against cutting schoolhouse programs. There were some tears, and there were some sharp points made concerning the size and cost of the central office, but i was amazed at everyone’s civility. (Needless to say, I did not speak.)

Some Arguments for not cutting educational programs:

  • Detrimental to children currently using these programs.
  • Makes little sense to scrap programs, such as Montessori, that Dekalb has so recently spent funds on improving. Would be throwing away those investments in the programs.
  • Treatment of teachers will drive away good educators, and fail to bring new ones into the county schools.
  • Right now, these programs are a draw for people to move into Dekalb County. (a point that hits home for Todd and I since we specifically moved to our current location less than two years ago to take advantage of the wonderful elementary my son attends). Scrapping these programs would mean that families would no longer be drawn by the programs, and in fact, many families will consider leaving the area for better educational opportunities. This exodus would likewise impact property values and the viability of our county schools for years to come.

This last point seemed to me the most salient: We should not throw away the future of our county to make stopgap budget cuts; there are other ways to make budgetary cuts that will not negatively impact education and property values in Dekalb County for so many years in the future.

Across the board, parents and teachers alike seemed to agree that the Board needs to look to the central office for their budget cuts. I have been looking for specific numbers on what the central office administration costs are and have had trouble finding those numbers. I have been told by word of mouth, though, that there are hundreds of administrators at this level making over $100,000. It seems ludicrous to be paying salaries like this when we have a budget shortfall.

I know one area they can certainly make cuts with little effect to our childrens’ education: The Magnet Office. I have had the opportunity to interact with them on an issue with getting my son into the Magnet program, along with following up with the director of that program on improving the processes and procedures for Magnet lottery in the future. Please believe me when I say that one Magnet official cannot screw up the lottery process any more significantly than two have managed to do already. These folks are inept and are not earning whatever salary it is they make already. I am sure that this ineptitude is spread throughout the central office in many different scenarios.

One final note: After the meeting last night, a group of four Evansdale parents (myself included) went up to Paul Womack, our Board of Education representative. We wanted to introduce ourselves, and let him know that Evansdale parents are concerned about our programs being cut. Mr. Womack was polite and took the time to speak with us. Other parents voiced their concerns. He listened. I asked him to please, “just do the right thing for our kids.”

His reply? “No, I will not do ‘the right thing.’ I will do what is right. There’s a difference, you know. You think about it.”

Are you kidding me? That is the most bullsh*t politician-speak i have ever heard!

He then proceeded to tell me and the three other women i was with that we were coming at this from “an emotional standpoint.” Sir, why don’t you just come out and call us hysterical women? Really? Really, Mr. Womack? I am sorry if I am getting a little emotional about threats to my child’s educational opportunities, and my property values. I am sorry if I get a little emotional when I think of folks making over a $100,000/year, while I see the programs in my child’s school possibly being cut.

I told him that we wanted to see the top-heavy central office experience cuts before they cut out our kids’ programs. I told him that we understood that in hard times, hard decisions had to be made, but that cuts they make to our school programs would be much more palatable if we also saw that central office was giving up plenty too. He assured me that we would see large central office cuts. I will be watching for those. And if I don’t see them, Mr. Womack? Don’t worry. I will do my darnedest to stay unemotional when I go to the polls in 2012.

Videos from last night’s meeting:

When was the last time you got a $15,000 Raise?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

When was the last time you got a $15,000 raise?

Dekalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis is getting a pay increase, while Dekalb County is proposing cuts across the system: teachers are taking furloughs, pay cuts are happening all over for those who work in the schools, programs are going to be cut, and millage rates possibly increased. Just last night, President Obama was speaking out against education cuts, but I don’t think he meant pay raises for fat cat administrators and their cronies in the big county nepotism office.

Sure, Dekalb is a huge school system, and the job can’t be very easy, but this man makes almost A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS EVERY YEAR. Most of the administration in Dekalb Co. (a top-heavy organization, at that) make over $100,000. And yet, custodians and bus drivers and the like have not even gotten a step up in two years. Music and art programs might be cut. Lottery-funded pre-kindergarten programs might be cut. Magnet programs might be cut. We waste money on new textbooks that aren’t even needed, while we don’t get the ones that are needed. But thank god, Crawford Lewis is getting that extra $15,000. Premiere Dekalb, my ass. Lewis hasn’t earned the first $240,000, much less the $15,000 raise!

Want to learn more?

What Lies Behind Dekalb’s Ire Over Schools

Dekalb Parent

Dekalb School Watch

Do you have a child in the Dekalb County school system? Do you live in Dekalb County? This affects you. Make your voice heard. The Board of Education is holding a Public Budget Input meeting this evening at 6:00pm at the William Bradley Bryant Center of Technology:

William Bradley Bryant Center of Technology
2652 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, Georgia 30033

Can’t make the meeting? You can send letters to the following Board Members:

H. Paul Womack, Jr.
Dr. Pamela Speaks
Thomas E. Bowen
Zepora Roberts
Jim Redovian
Don McChesney
Sarah Copelin-Wood
Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, Jr.
Eugene P. Walker

And/Or DCSS Officials:
Terry M. Segovis
Robert G. Moseley

Either Todd or I will be attending the meeting, and if I go, I might Twitter updates. Those show up in the sidebar of my blog, or you can follow me on Twitter.

Godspeed, Sperm!

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Nope, not me. Our sperm is all tied up.

Courtney, over at CDeluxe, penned a great post about her (and her husband’s) first steps in fertility testing. It is an honest and funny look at something that is so terribly personal and fraught with stress, manic depression, joy and sadness. I wish her and her husband luck, and I thank her for reminding me what it was like to sit in that office myself almost seven years ago, and how lucky I am that my own fertility journey ended in the pot of gold that is my son, Rollie.

Disclaimer: I totally want them to have babies. We need more little Bulldog babies in this world!

Canonical List of Evil Baby Names

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

I don’t know why, but this just cracked me up: the imagery of some expectant parent/mad scientist wanting to bestow upon their baby a name that will ensure intrinsic darkness, world domination, or evil genius.

The Canonical List of Evil Baby Names

Stuff I Like

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

I am currently loving this guy Bryan Brown’s photographs. They totally strike that exhilarating intersection for me where “pretty picture” meets “cool history.” He calls himself Dirt Road Cowboy, and he traverses the back roads of S. Georgia, taking pictures of old structures, signs, and homes. Doesn’t hurt that I keep hoping that he will unearth some amazing nugget associated with my family history, much of which, on my dad’s side, is in this area. I can’t wait to find out what he comes up with next.

He has a website called Vanishing South Georgia, where he posts his photos, often with a story or historical description accompanying them. Photos that he doesn’t post there are in his Flickr stream.

If you don’t like history, rural decay, architecture, or old advertising, you will probably not be into this.

If that’s the case, you might be more into Kingston Lounge. This guy is into “Guerilla Preservation and Urban Archaeology” – He goes around and takes photographs of some cool and creepy stuff. I found it when looking for photos of the old Central State hospital in Milledgeville, GA. Most of his stuff is in NYC, primarily Brooklyn, i think.


Rainy Sunday, Good Times

Monday, January 25th, 2010

With all the rain over the weekend, we were about to go nuts at Chez Dogwood. We decided to get out for the day, weather be damned!

First, we went to Dim Sum at Canton House. One of the best parts of our new neighborhood is its proximity to really great, diverse, and cheap food on Buford Highway. Buford Highway is just an absolute festival of delights. Love it.

Dim Sum is great with the kiddos, because it’s a fun way to get them to try things they haven’t had before, what with all the choices and them being able to take a look at things before we order them, and carts. Carts are fun! Also, Canton House has crazy big chandeliers and there’s nothing that says “fancy” to kids like chandeliers. Rollie tried both clams and squid, which i had my doubts either of them would try. Couldn’t get Tiller to eat a clam, but she put away the squid like there was no tomorrow. Rollie is definitely the more adventurous eater, though, and he loved the dumplings and the tofu roll that we gave him.

After that, we headed back out into the rain and over to Plaza Fiesta for the indoor playground. PF is a mall frequented by the Hispanic population in Atlanta. It is AWESOME. I love going in a place and having it be like a completely different country. Everything in Spanish and English (but mostly Spanish). Churro stands. Tacos and Mexican bakery in their food court, even with Univision and Soccer on the TVs. Tiller loves all the dolls on display, the cheap and frilly cake toppers, and the Quinceanara dresses. She walked up to two on display and asked me “Which ones are they, Mama?” “Which what?” I said. “Princesses. Which Princesses are these?” I told her all the little girls get to be Princess for a day. Me? I like the creepy baby angels and Jesus statues. This is also the place to go for your cowboy wear. I love the older guys walking around in cowboy hats and boots and belt buckles, like it was the southwest. It even has an open tattoo parlor. (The reviews on Yelp say all of this much better than I ever could.)

After that, we headed over to Buford Highway Farmer’s Market. Love this place, as the people watching is stellar, it is clean, and they have an awesome selection. It makes me want to cook fresh yummy stuff. Which Todd did last night. We bought our hot tortillas for a buck, and made steak tacos with fresh pico de gallo and guacamole. So yummy. I even made up a tequila drink to go with it. (We were out of mixer and Triple Sec, so i used oranges, lime, and sugar, and dressed it with a slice of Starfruit. I named it the Lone Star.)

All in all a good day that ended not so great, when it became apparent that Rollie didn’t feel good. He felt warm and wanted to go to sleep before dinner. Woke up with a headache and a 102+ fever. Poor kid. And doesn’t it always figure that they get sick on your day off? Tiller has school Monday/Wednesday/Friday, so of course Rollie comes down sick Monday morning. Usually, I would get a couple hours to myself. Today, I have both the boys here. Guess I should just be thankful and give hugs and kisses to my Rolls and my Toddler.

Here are some pictures from our Sunday adventures.

Rainy Day with Kids

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

We are going absolutely batshit stircrazy over here.

What do you do with kids when it rains? We have exhausted coloring, puzzles, games. Thinking about Fiesta mall playground later.

Any and all ideas will be considered.

Chicks Dig Todd

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

A wonderful birthday surprise was pulled over on me last evening. Todd took me to Iberian Pig for dinner (very good – I almost cried, the Bacon-Wrapped Dates were so good.) Then we walked over to Twain’s to play some pool and found a kajillion friends there. i was suspicious, though, as not one of my friends asked me to do something for my birthday. Still made me feel sick to my stomach to be the center of attention, but I washed that away with beer. Head only hurt a little bit today.

Thanks again to Ned and Vanessa for carting me home. (They didn’t have to use a cart. I swear.) They are the best.

Pictures didn’t come out that great, but I did take one that cracked me up really hard. I took it with QuadCamera for the iPhone. It takes four shots in succession. Todd has a new shirt that has snaps, instead of buttons. The chicks were totally diggin’ it. . .

That third one just kills me.

That third one just kills me.

The Bigass Bulldog Birdhouse Birthday

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Why, yes . . . yes, I did get a $100 dollar Georgia Bulldog birdhouse for my birthday. Funny story behind that, which I will get to in a moment. But first, I have to say that I had a lovely morning, getting to sleep late, which for people with kids means eight a.m. (Screw you, childless folk.)

I woke up to Todd and Tiller climbing in bed with me (Rollie had already caught the bus), and Todd doing a darn good version of The Beatles’ “Birthday,” with Tiller grinning like a cheshire cat and a cup of coffee materializing on my bedside table.

Coffee. In. Bed.

Then I was informed that I should finish my coffee get dressed and go downstairs. I did, and I found this:

Hundred dollar Georgia Bulldog birdhouse with hydrangea and cards.

Hundred dollar Georgia Bulldog birdhouse with hydrangea and cards.

I was a little caught off guard. That is one big ass bulldog birdhouse. Did the Tiger husband really buy me a bulldog birdhouse? Is this a joke? (Also, let’s be honest. While I am a bulldog fan, I don’t want to be those people. You know, the ones who have UGA everything. That being said, if those folks at the lake ever die, I am so going to try to buy their huge Bulldog statue they have in front of their cabin, right on the lake.)

We opened the very sweet cards from the kids and Todd, and I oohed and aahhed over the birdhouse and the hydrangea. I asked Todd, “Am i really allowed to put the birdhouse in the yard?” It seemed to pain him as he replied, “yes, baby, you just tell me where.”

“Where on earth did you get it?” I asked.

“Echo’s garage!” Tiller replied with glee. “Echo” is what Tiller calls Mr. Echols, the old man who lives next door to us. Some things you just don’t correct, because they are too cute.

I stared at Todd and then the truth came out.

Mr. Echols likes to show us stuff in his yard. He has a friend, who made him a couple of birdhouses, huge wooden deals, kind of more on the side of what Todd and I call, “Country Christian” or “Ducks in Bonnets” style than cool and funky folk art Finster-style birdhouses. Meaning, not exactly what I would choose, but neat enough.

So, Echo was showing Todd the birdhouses and telling him about the friend who makes them, and all the different styles he makes. “He also makes Georgia Bulldog birdhouses,” he said.

Todd replied, “Oh, Anne would love that!” Being polite, you know.

So, a few days before Christmas, Mr. Echols pulled Todd aside to show him my new birdhouse. That’s right. He just went ahead and had the guy make me the birdhouse. FOR A HUNDRED DOLLARS.

Todd had already bought me Christmas gifts, and he didn’t want to hurt Echo’s feelings, so he decided the birdhouse would be my birthday gift.

And what a gift it is. . . I will never look at that birdhouse without thinking that my husband, the Auburn Tiger, is sweet enough to just cough up the hundred bucks so as not to hurt Echo’s feelings, and that he loves me enough to put up a bigass Bulldog backyard birdhouse for me.

Already this birthday is pretty bitchin.’ Thanks, Toddler!