Archive for November, 2010

Favorite Albums of 2010?

Monday, November 29th, 2010

What are yours? I am starting to think about mine, and since i don’t have as much time as I once did to sit around and read about music, I started wondering what great albums I am missing out on.. . .

What are your favorites?

Lego Nap

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

We just got on 85 and both kids and both dogs are already asleep, Rollie clutching his Star Wars Legos box in his arms.
Lego Nap

Happy Place

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Slept until ten. Coffee on the patio with my college roommates, overlooking the fields, Table Rock in the distance. Then, eggs, caramel croissant casserole, pancetta and mimosas. About to go for a hike.

I am in my happy place.

By This Afternoon

Friday, November 19th, 2010

I will be here.
Haybales at Dusk

Can’t wait.

California Is Scary

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

According to Tiller. . .

We were sitting around the kitchen table and somehow California came up.

Tiller blurted out, “California is scary!”

“What? I said. “Why is California scary? You have never even been to California!”

“But there’s that hotel.”

I stare blankly at her.

“Hotel?”

She stares at me like I am the dumbest person on earth. How do i not get it, when it is so obvious?

“The hotel, mama. . .the one from the song, with the monster?”

I blink.

“The Hotel California?”

“Yes,” she said, completely matter of fact.

“It has a monster?”

“Yes, mama.”

“Oh.”

So, i sang the whole thing to myself, and sure enough, there is the following line:

They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

Wow. Hysterical. I really didn’t know she was paying that much attention to the lyrics to all the songs we listen to in the car.

The Blends Project

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Anybody else get this in their head while doing the Blends project?

For those of you who don’t have a first grader at my kid’s school, the Blends Project is 30% of their grade. Basically, the teacher gives you a list of 20 “blends” – blends are letter combinations, such as “br” and “ch.” The kids have to come up with four words for each blend (CH: Choir, Chorus, Chorizo, Chair). Then, the kids have to draw or cut out pictures representing each of the words. Each cutout must be of a size that it will fit into one fourth of one 20th of a large piece of poster board. Confused? Yeah, the kids are supposed to divide their poster board into 20 equal parts, and each of those parts will contain four pictures. The pictures are then labeled with the name of the word they represent.

Note that I say “the kids” are supposed to be doing all of this. As if kids in first grade can do all of this. Me? I am lucky, in that my kid learned all his blends two to three years ago, so he had no problem coming up with his own words. (Don’t even get me started on the fact that they are not differentiating this project at all for the kids who are strong readers and already know their blends.) Other parents are not so lucky – they have to help their kids figure out four words for each blend.

What ends up happening is that the parents then go to the computer and google clipart that corresponds to the word. Then they print it all out for the kid to cut out. Then the parent has to divide the squares on the poster board. (I mean, come on! How many first graders could figure that out?)

So, basically, if the kids don’t know their blends yet, then the parents end up doing half the work. Even for my kid, who knows his, I end up having to do the clip art portion (took me TWO HOURS last night to google, and cut and paste, and print, the 80 images.) The plus to this is that Rollie and I spent some quality time together. By quality time, I mean that he and i did the images, while Tiller cried under the computer desk, rolling around at my feet, wailing about how bored she was, and I didn’t finish my laundry.

A negative to this whole thing might be that my son did not learn a DAMN thing. Oh! Except for the following “enlightening” images that came up while searching for words he already knew how to spell.

Interesting things that come up on Google Images while searching for pictures of words for Blends project:

drug (people smoking pot, shooting heroin, laying passed out next to an open and spilled bottle of pills with a bottle of bourbon in hand, pot leaf, bong, bag of weed, cartoons with needles hanging out of people’s arms.)
brown (pile of poop, naked African American woman, James Brown mugshot)
Drown (pictures of drowning victims, scary illustrations of drowning people)
Drink (OH GOD, Alt+Tab!)
frenzy (wolves tearing apart some animal, creepy cartoons with people foaming at the mouth, zombie melee)
prank – (one KKK poster, a rear end mooning the camera)
glowstick (rave photos, symbols of hands holding glowsticks up in the air, Rollie: “What’s a rave?”)
spank (Are you kidding me? Me: Don’t you want to pick another word? That one is kind of negative. Rollie: Why? It’s just hitting on the bottom? Me: sigh. Ok. [praying as i hit google], Oh, no, that one is not good. Rollie: Mama, what is? Me: Don’t worry about that one, honey.)
spa (who knew there were so many asian “spa” pictures online?)
blonde? (I don’t even need to describe what came up for this one, right?)
Slip (lots of disturbing photos and cartoons about the band slipknot. R: Mama, what is a slipknot? Me: A kind of knot. R: For putting around your neck?)

Gee. Education is great.

Annual Temporary Annulment Day 2010

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

So, you might have heard a little rumor. It has something to do with me and a streak.

Four games. I would love to make it five, but I don’t see it happening. If it does happen, it will be amidst too much hoopla, and it will be bittersweet and contested anyway. Sigh.

Scratch that. I’ll take it.

There is something larger at stake, though. Not just four in a row in a House Divided. But my record at Auburn games. I have a bit of streak going there, too. I have never seen Auburn win a game in my presence.

I’ve been to a number of Auburn games, and not just games where they play Georgia (although those have been the sweetest). Auburn has lost every game I attended. I am the kiss of death. i am the black widow. One year i was the Blackout Widow. (By far the most beautiful Annulment Day yet.) Bama game last year? That was me. Unexpected loss to some crappy Florida team? (Florida Atlantic? Florida A&M?) Yeah, that was me too.

Cue Sympathy for the Devil.

The best thing about tomorrow is. . . well, duh. No children for a day of drinking. Second best thing? We have nothing to lose and they have everything to lose. Worst case scenario, I get really loaded, we lose catastrophically, and some really great Auburn friends rag on me for a day. I think i can take it. I mean, they took it the last four years in a row.

Plus, the look on my husband’s face while Bulldogs players and fans cranked dat Soulja Boy? No one can take that very magical, electric moment away from me. Or erase it from his memory. But just in case. . .

Sweet dreams, sugar.

Thanks to Those Who Make Dogwood Girl Possible

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

I am thankful today, as every day, for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day so that I can live in this wonderful country, and write whatever I damn well please on this blog. They make it possible, and I will never forget it.

Thank you, Veterans. Thank you.

Do you know a veteran? Have a good story about a veteran? I would love to read it. Or if you have a veteran in your life that you just want to recognize, that would be cool too. Hit me up in the comments.

Here’s my story, even though he’s not a veteran: I talked to my Grandfather a lot about Pearl Harbor right after Sept. 11th. People kept on saying, “It’s the worst thing since Pearl Harbor.” I asked Pop if that was true. He said it was worse, because it was on TV, and you watched it in real time (“real time” are my words, not his). I asked what it was like for him right after Pearl Harbor. He said that in the days following the attack, all the young men he knew in Savannah all got together and rode to Atlanta to enlist. (I wish I had asked him why they went to Atlanta. Couldn’t they enlist down there?)

Part of the process was a thorough medical examination. They turned Pop down. They wouldn’t take him because he had a heart murmur, and because he was missing a toe due to snakebite. Seems like these would not really prevent a soldier from shooting a gun, but I am no expert. So, while Pop’s buddies enlisted, he had to go back to Savannah. I asked him how he felt about it. He said he was disappointed, but that he realized how “lucky” he was later, when people he knew were killed in action.

His story is interesting, though. There were so many people at home who did so much- He and Grandma both built warships in Savannah, called “Liberty Ships.” (If you are really a nerd, you can see which of 88 Liberty Ships were built at the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation in Savannah. Or just read the history of Savannah’s Liberty Ships here.)

They had a Victory Garden.

He later worked “on the base,” in Warner Robins until his retirement, and he traveled all over the world in a work capacity. Pretty interesting for the orphan from Coffee County.

And I will never forget that he went to Atlanta that day in 1941 to write that check for his country, even if it was not accepted.

What about you? Do you have a wartime story? I would love to hear it.

Chamblee Charette Summary

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

I don’t usually post political stuff, but thought I would post this, since folks might be interested in how this went. I cross-posted this one on The Evansdale Porch, also. You must register to see that discussion.

I attended last night, along with three other Evansdale parents that I know of.

It started at 6:30 and we didn’t get home til after nine, so these suckers are long.

First, they (the consultants) discussed the “triangulation” strategy used in the 2020 Vision process they are using to make the recommendations to the board. More description of the charettes here.

So, they gave out the response cards – little mechanical cards, where you push a button corresponding to the answer you want to give. You would see the results after each question, in percentages. They asked questions for this portion in three parts: Demographics, Facilities, and redistricting&consolidation.

Demographics:

First they tallied the number of people in the room = there were, i think, close to 350.
They asked if you were a parent of a dek. student, a teacher, other, an administrator/employee of dekalb, a dekalb student, etc.
What high school cluster are you currently zoned for? Overwhelming majority in the room were Lakeside/druid hills/tucker or Chamblee/Dunwoody/and another, that seemed incorrect.

Facilities:
Rate the – (based on the COUNTY, not a particular school)
quality of a Dekalb County education
phys. condition of schools
overall safety
Physical disabilities access
Instructional spaces relative to the programs they are designed for
HVAC
Technology for students and staff
Exterior appearance (curb appeal)
Playgrounds, athletic fields, etc.
The last question had to do with what would play the most imp. factor in you voting to pass SPLOST IV:
Answers were things like: Transparency, knowing what exactly would be done with the $, . . . can’t remember the rest of them. The main gist of that question seemed to be to figure out the best way to get taxpayers to vote for SPLOST IV. . . .kind of angered me.

Redistricing and Consol:
Rate “strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree.”
Dek co. operates the “right” number of schools.
Dek. provides schools that are sized appropriately, capacity-wise
Program offerings are equitable across schools
I am satisfied with how dekalb provides and implements school choice options.
Portable classrooms are a viable long-term solution for overcrowding.
Which would be most imp. factor in reconsolidation decision. (Age/condition, geographical proximity, academic performance, ‘i have another idea’)
Which would be most imp factor in redistricting: geog. proximity, feeder school alignment, previous redistricting, Instructional capacity, difference in program offerings, another idea.

After that, we were split off into smaller groups (about 20 folks in each, but it was done by row, and should have been more random as we ended up with clusters of folks who knew each other in the same groups) and they asked us to talk about specific examples of what made us answer this way. For example, something like 80% of us said that overcrowding was a problem. They asked us about specific problems with trailers. With complete labs. With bathrooms. With HVAC. With groundskeeping. With school choice (choices and implementation). The overarching theme was that a lot of people mistrust the people who are going to be making decisions about reconsol, and redistr. When asked about SPLOST, most people said they didn’t want to pay more if they didn’t trust that the people controlling the money were managing it well. People complained about the questions = oftentimes, the answer for us would be “all of the above” but we were not given that option. There was a sense that folks thought the county was putting the cart before the horse.

A lot of people thought that this way of looking at it, with the surveys and the site visits, was not taking into consideration the culture of school districts, or the zoning of them. (for example, not looking at percentages of population of schools that will be in multi-family housing, or working with county zoning officials to understand what these populations would look like in five, ten, or 20 years.)

Some people mentioned that it didn’t take into consideration that people moved to areas with the sole purpose of attending particular schools, and the impact that the changes would have on these n’hoods. That there are areas where folks will refuse to send their child to a diff. school and will choose private instead, or will move to a different district again, thus changing the populations again. Or, might move to a different county altogether.

Complaints that it didn’t take into consideration that the most important factor for most of us was the quality of the education, not the quality of the facility.

We also had the opp. to talk to the head of the consulting firm and ask him questions. We asked what info would be published. For example, we wanted to know if they would be recommending closing/redistricting of SPECIFIC schools. The answer was yes. So, it sounds like we will have a better idea of what will happen in Jan when they give their recs.

We asked if the BOE had to use the recs. They said no – the final legal decision is up to the board. (Hopefully, there will be public outcry if we spend all this money on consulting and then don’t listen to the experts, though.) This also means that the squeaky wheel gets the grease may just influence the decision. (surprise.)

We asked what has happened in the past when they do this kind of study for a district. They did a similar one for St. Louis city schools. They recommended 29 school closings. The St. Louis school board only closed 17, i think he said. I also wonder if our closing list will be a similar NUMBER of schools. He said that we were similar districts, but that we had our own problems. One of the problems he listed, and the one that caught my attention, was our “school choice” or “school programs” – i inferred from that comment that maybe they have already identified programs like magnet and school choice programs as things that will probably need to go. (Note: he did not say that they would have to go, but he did list it off the top of his head as a problem.) So, i think that does not bode well for our magnet program, which does not bode well for our enrollment, which is not good. . .

Dec. 7 – the results from the charettes will be posted on the dekalb county website.
Jan – The Consulting firm’s recommendations for redistricting and consolidation will be given to the board (and will be made public.)
Feb – Board will approve or make changes to the firm’s recs. THE BOARD OF EDUCATION HAS THE RIGHT TO THE FINAL DECISION FOR RECONSOLIDATION AND REDISTRICTING. Which means, they do not have to implement the recommendations from the consulting firm. This is concerning to me, as we still have some of these idiots on the board, so who knows what they will decide in the end?

There was a lot more, but I honestly can’t remember it all – we were there over two hours. Perhaps other attendees can add to what I’ve put here. Was anyone else there?

Also, Dekalb School Watch Blog has a summary.

Dekalb is also gathering info online. Take the survey!

One last thing – they did allow us to fill out a form about our specific schools. i filled one out for all three (evansdale, HMS, and Lakeside.) They did not explain well how the information would be weighted, as far as tracking where the information is coming from, but the data in the large group was captured for which HIgh school clusters were present, and in the small groups, we filled out the questionnaires for our specific schools.

I cannot go to seven charettes, but I really, really think that it couldn’t hurt to try and have folks go to other ones. I am also really curious to see how the answers are going to differ at schools in less affluent areas. . . is anyone planning to go to a charette at a school in a different part of the county? I think we are deluding ourselves if we think their concerns are going to be the same as our concerns. (Hate to make it an us against them, n. dekalb vs. s. dekalb argument, but let’s be honest, those politics are at play here, or else the three Board members from those districts would not have been re-elected.)

Oh, lord. That was long. Doubt anyone is even reading this far, but if you are, give yourself a pat on the back.
p.s. Excuse any mistakes – don’t have time to go back and edit this.

p.p.s. Dekalb Parent notes on last night’s charette.

The Shiner

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

For those who want to see my shiner, here you go. For those of you who are wondering how Todd managed to resist hitting me for this long, stuff it. I did it myself with a shovel.

It’s not too bad! Sadly, I’ve had worse. (Tried to find the photo of the Florida car wreck aftermath that was my face, to no avail.)

Here it is the day after I did it.
Day After

And this morning. (Very brave of me to put up a post-wakeup, puffy eyes, no makeup photo, no?)
And this morning

Uh . . . enjoy it, sickos.