Wednesday, August 17, 2005

In which the Lipscombs are bookish

My August column is out - about growing up bookish. . .

Due in part to extra prep the night before (I am learning), the first day of school went very smoothly. Everyone got up, got dressed, and ate breakfast with a minimum of fuss. We only left about 5 minutes late and made it about 5 minutes before the tardy bell (so 20 minutes or so of walking). Got Franny settled, dropped by and met Drew's teacher (argh, all these teachers are so young, I feel like I should be hobbling around with a cane), and walked home - total trip, including wandering around looking for older son's class, took 50 minutes. On a regular day, I can probably shave 10 minutes off that, so I can say with certainty that walking won't take any longer than driving, parking, etc. Walking in the morning definitely is energizing (although it will be better when the humidity isn't 100% [note: not an exageration, that was the humidity at 7:00 am, according to the weather site]).

When I picked the kids up, Drew was pretty quiet about his day, but I noticed that most of the girls in his class made a point of saying goodbye to him. Possibly it's the beginning of the boy/girl stuff (EEP!), but mostly I just hope he has a better year this year, and makes some good friends. Franny said, "Mom, we have to make sure we leave early tomorrow and get to school on time. I don't want to miss anything!"

At bedtime, husband read Alec his bedtime stories using the "Great Writers" finger puppets: Leo Tolstoy (as voiced by Anastasia!Yul Brynner), William Shakespeare (as voiced by Ian McKellan [with a brief foray into Sean Connery]), Virginia Woolf (as voiced by Dame Edna), and Charles Dickens (as voiced by The Limey!Terrence Stamp).

Shakespeare did a sort of medley of bits from the most memorable soliloquies, Dickens announced that he was the world's most famous Limey, and then Woolf and Tolstoy declared their forbidden love for one another. Oh, and Woolf and Tolstoy recited Dinosaur Roar and Peekaboo!.

At our house, we make our own fun. . .

Monday, August 15, 2005

My day in numbers

Phone calls with doctors' office and Adam, trying to get insurance sorted for dr. visit tomorrow: 7
Hours since the first kid woke up: 6
Spats/squabbles broken up: 5
Spills and messes mopped/wiped up: 4 (milk [twice], chocolate syrup, and muddy water)
Changes of clothes for Alec (who just today learned how to take off all his clothes and his diaper): 3
Changes of clothes for Franny: 2
Calls to poison control (regarding Drew, who decided superglue was the best thing to use to fix his 3D glasses, and tried to open the tube with his mouth): 1
Number of haircuts accomplished today, despite best intentions: 0

Waldman on AP

Ayelet Waldman tells (Attachment) parents to Mind your own kids. Waldman must have been missing the hate mail. . .

Honestly, although (like Waldman) I lean more towards the AP end of the parenting spectrum, I agree with her: we all have to make our own choices, based on what's best for our families, and (barring true abuse or neglect) everyone else should just keep their noses out of it. I've also been the recipient of condescending proselytizing from hardcore Attachment Parents, but I suspect that missionary zeal has more to do with being deeply invested in a particular parenting philosopy than AP per se. Because I've also gotten the hardsell from the Baby Wise people (who are truly scary, if you ask me), and they're on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Computer Woes

AKA, first world problems of the highest order. . .

When I got my laptop (a hand-me-down from one of Adam's gaming friends), there was an intermittent problem with it recognizing the power cord. Occasionally it would switch to battery, but if you jiggled the cord a bit, it would switch back and all was well. Adam's friend said there was a loose connector that needed to be soldered - he figured Adam could do it, but we were both leery of that. And since the problem seemed manageable, fixing it wasn't a priority.

Last week the problem got worse, until the computer couldn't "see" the cord at all. I tried to conserve the battery power, but I also needed to get files off it, and in the midst of that, it went into hibernation because the battery was drained. So I can't use it at all (luckily, I managed to get everything I need to work on immediately off it before that happened).

On Friday, I called the place around the corner that advertises that it fixes laptop and told the guy what was going on. He seemed to understand, quoted a flat rate of $75 to fix the problem (barring any unforeseen additional problems), and I ran it by later in the afternoon. The guy behind the counter was young, and although he claimed to be the same guy I'd talked to earlier, he didn't seem to recall anything I'd told him. So I ran through it all again. Things went downhill from there. . .

"So it won't turn on?"

Patiently, I explained again what was going on, ending with, "so yeah, it might not turn on now, since the battery is dead, but if you put a new battery in it, it would work fine." (Trying to explain that it's a power supply problem.)

"So, you think it needs a new battery?"

Again, I explained the problem. This time he finally got it, but began explaining that it wasn't as simple as it seemed, since all of that was one piece, and it was possible he'd have to put a new motherboard in. He piddled around and got an estimate - $150 on top of the $75 he'd quoted before (mind you, Dell's advertising new laptops for $400). He also went off on this long exegesis about how it might not even be related to the plug but might be something much more seriously wrong with the computer (and I'm thinking, but not saying, that this is junior high level trouble shooting. There's a problem and when you mess with this it works again, so odds are that this is the problem. Drew, at eight, could figure out that much.)

I start to explain that husband's friend -- someone who knows about this stuff -- had suggested it was a very simple repair. "He said the connector just needed to be soldered."

"OH. Well, I can't do that kind of work.  I don't have the tools for it. If it turns out that's the problem, then you'll need to send it back to Dell."

So I'm thinking this guy seems like an idiot and I'm not entirely comfortable leaving the computer with him, but I decide it's worth it to let him open it up and at least see if that's the problem. So then he asks for the $75 upfront. "But, if what I think is wrong with it, you won't even be able to fix it!"

(As if to a very stupid child.) "You have to look at the positive side. At least you'd know for sure what was wrong. And if you send it to Dell, even for a simple $50 repair, they'll charge you all kinds of other fees."

"But I'm already pretty sure I know what's wrong, and it's something you've said you can't fix. Besides, if that's the problem, you've said I'll still have to send it to Dell and so I'll pay all their charges, plus what you've charged me. I think I'll call around some more and talk to my husband before I do anything."

He refuses to give me my computer, and continues to try to justify the $75 charge. "If I open it up, you can't expect me to do that work and not get paid!"

I reiterated that I wasn't going to pay him the same fee for an estimate as I would for him to both diagnose and fix the problem. And he still wouldn't give me my computer. Finally after going back and forth many times, I got it back and left, so angry I could hardly speak. It was now 5:00 pm on Friday afternoon and nothing was open. So I can't even look into finding another place until tomorrow. GRRRRR!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A brilliant plan. . .

On Thursday night, after Drew and Fran's back to school night (which went well - Fram has the same fabulous kindergarten teacher Drew had, and Drew's teacher seems nice), I went for a walk. I got a wild hair and started walking toward the school. In the past when I've tried to walk to the school, I've taken a different route, and it's appeared to be at least 30 minutes one way, walking fast. But the route I took last night was just a hair over 15 minutes. Even at kid pace, we should be able to do it in 30 minutes (and then I can hotfoot it home, with Alec in the stroller). So I'm going to start walking the kids to school every morning. This has a multitude of benefits:

1. Moving exercise to the morning, so I'll have more time with Adam in the evenings, and combining it with another obligation, instead of taking time away from other commitments (by the time you figure in the time I'd spend getting kids into the car, driving to the school, finding a parking place, getting Alec into his stroller, and walking Franny into the kindergarten, it shouldn't take that much longer to walk!)
2. Not wasting gas (and polluting the air) driving - Drew has been very concerned about this lately and has actually asked why we drive so much instead of walking, when walking is better for us and better for the environment
3. First step in teaching kids the route and getting them comfortable with walking it themselves (probably not until next year, but it's a step in that direction)
4. Allow the kids to run off some energy before school
5. I'm in hopes that they'll be excited by the novelty of it and it will be easier to motivate them to get out the door ::crosses fingers::

For the time being, I probably won't walk to pick them up, since it'll be upwards of 95 or 100 degrees in the afternoon. But if this goes well (and nothing's changed with our schedule) when the weather cools off I may build that into our day too.

Die sedentary lifestyle, die, die!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Birthday baby!

Alec is two years old today, although it hardly seems possible. He's in full-on toddler mode - talking and running and bailing toilet water onto the bathroom floor every chance he gets.

This means it's been nearly two years since I regularly updated this blog. Several times I've said that I was going to make more of an effort to post here, but it always falls by the wayside. But I think I'm finally coming out of the infancy fog. No promises, but check back occasionally - there may be more content here in months to come.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I go out walking. . .

In my continued fight against my sedentary lifestyle, after dinner, Fran and I walked to the store to get a loaf of bread. It was slower going at a 5 year old's pace, but it gave us some much needed one on one time.

Franny is starting to live in a "named world." She's moved beyond general categories (flower, bird, tree) into more specific labels - she recognizes the more common plants we see and can name them (she can identify rosemary and honeysuckle by scent), as well as some of the birds. We saw 2 birds that we didn't recognize on the power lines above the (full) drainage ditch. They were sort of waterbird looking: dark feathers with long legs, shortish necks, curved bills, and a white slash across each cheek. When we got home, we looked in the bird book and failed utterly at identifying them (not a surprise - I'm the world's worst birder). I'm not sure I understand how the ecosystem of the drainage ditch works - we've occasionally seen blue herons as well as turtles and frogs - but it's only really wet for a day or two after a hard rain. Most of the time it's just a grassy ditch.

On the way back we saw 2 toads, and heard crickets and frogs and the drum corps practicing, and talked about lunar phases, and The Lord of the Rings (which is the new bedtime chapter book as of tonight - I gave her a little preview of the plot), and why it's not really safe to cut through the park after dark. It's hard to know how to make her aware of being safe without scaring her - I chose not to belabor the point, but just planted the seed that it's smart to think about the risks, and look for ways to be safe, but that you shouldn't let fear rule you.

And now we've read the Hobbity bit of the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring, and all the kids are asleep. And my feet are sore. . .

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

In the gloaming. . .

Went out for a latish walk, and it was actually Not Hot. While I walked, the stars and the fireflies came out, and I could smell barbecue and sliced watermelon and freshly-mown grass. But when the wind blew the right way, I could hear the marching band practicing at the high school; football season's right around the corner. This morning was cool and damp, and foggy around Town Lake. It'll be hot for a good long while yet, but I can feel the season turning.

In Austin, *everybody's* in a band. . .

My car is still in the shop, awaiting a new alternator, so I spent several hours in the car today, driving Adam to and from work (so that I'd have use of his car while he was gone). My chatty daughter loves it when this happens, because we're a captive audience for her monologues.

This afternoon, she got on a kick about how she was going to start a band called Vampires Rock. Their first song is going to be called (appropriately enough) "Vampires Rock," (I could hum a few bars of it, if you like - she sang us long sections of it). The B side will be "Creatures of the Night." And they're going to wear vampire makeup (she's a junior Goth - who knew?).

The entire time we were in the car, she rambled on about this, frequently asking me and Drew if we wanted to be in the band. Drew was trying to read his book, and clearly annoyed by the whole thing. She'd ask, "Do you want to play guitar?" and he'd answer, curtly, "No," and go back to his book. A few minutes later, she'd say, "Do you want to play drums?" and again he'd answer, "No."

Finally, after exhausting almost all the musical instruments, she said again, "Do you want to play guitar?" He put his book down and very seriously asked, "Franny, have you considered a solo career?"

It's a good thing I was pulling into our driveway at this point - otherwise I think I might've run off the road. . .

Monday, August 08, 2005

What have you got to lose?

Things I've lost (not a complete list):

1. The Austin Public library book, Snake, due 8/2/2005 (it's got to be here somewhere!)
2. My Madeleine Peyroux cd with "Dance Me to the End of Love" on it
3. The silver and amber bracelet Adam bought in Montreal and gave me for Christmas in 1999
4. The name of the first boy I kissed
5. The locket that once belonged to my father's only sister, who died when she was 10 months old
6. The curtains that I made for the second apartment Adam and I lived in, along with a bolt of coordinating toile that I was going to use for a slipcover (how do you lose that much fabric?)
7. A baby (and isn't that construction odd? I'm pretty sure I didn't misplace her.)
8. Fran and Alec's social security cards
9. The phone number and address of the woman who was my maid of honor when I got married
10. My temper, more times than I can count (and that's just today)