Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The password is... PASSWORD..NO! Thank you for playing

Do you use your kids' names as a password? Your pet's name, that you talk about on your blog? You might want to rethink that strategy. Seriously. I have a friend right now in shock because she had an easy-to guess password. Someone hacked her gmail account. She lost everything. This includes her email, her blogs (which were on Blogger, owned by, who else? Google). What's more, her passwords were in a folder, in her gmail account. So, the person who hacked her has it all. She is left with nothing and is scrambling to undo the damage that can be done all over the Internet. Meanwhile, she is locked out of everything Google. Can you imagine? Another reason computing in the Cloud has me a bit a-skeered...Google owns my life.

It is easy to get lax, but here's the deal, from me to you. If you have a word from the dictionary as a password, change it, RIGHT NOW. I'll wait. ...

...are you back? This is why: there are programs that just run dictionary words and common numbers trying to hack your password. Make no mistake, there are people out there, right now, as I write this, trying to hack you. A combination of letters, numbers and upper and lower case characters are the best chance you have to keep those out who want in to your accounts. Go ahead, make use of that shift bar. Also, while I am on the subject, make a new password for every single service you use online. I know it's a pain, but this way, if someone gets into one, they don't necessarily get into everything.

I know, I's hard to keep track of that many passwords, but you have some options. If you are on a Mac, you have Keychain to help you. You can store passwords, but also generate them as well. On a PC, you can use Password Safe, an application that you download and use locally. It creates files for your passwords, and a master password to protect them all. What's more, it is open source, so you don't pay anything for it. As for what you find on the Internet, I would be very, very wary of any online password meters. How do you know that your password is not being snarfed? Keep it local! It's also smart to write those puppies down in case you have a hard drive crash. This actually happened to me in July, and I lost half of my passwords. Luckily, I did have most of them written down, and backed up.

I don't want to hear that you have been hacked, so change that password. Change it often. And store your passwords locally, not ONLINE where they can be hacked. Your online identity, treat it the way you would your bank information. Treat it the way you would your first born child. Guard it.

Consider this my public service announcement to all of you. Much love. Peace out.

T, who changed mine the minute I heard about this

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas, OCD & me

It's in the air. If you are quiet, you can hear it. The ringing of bells by bored Salvation Army volunteers. The muttered cussing of a mother as she tries to find a parking space at the mall. The movement of boxes as Daddy tries to find the lights so he can string them on to the Christmas tree. The hollow "Oof!" as I am elbowed in the ribs to get the last copy of the only game my son wants for Christmas this year, bar none. The screams of yet another child placed on Santa's lap against his will by a well-meaning mother, trying to simply make memories for her family. Poor woman. I learned the hard way with that one: just not worth it. This time of year fills me with dread.

I used to have a brain, but somewhere around Nov, specifically the third week or so, my brain goes missing. Some call it anxiety over perfectionism. I call it par-for-the-course. But it makes the holidays stressful, not fun, and a lot more work than they need to be. I can't figure out how to change this, try as I might. It is a mountain I am tired of climbing. ( a chimney I am tired of going down?) One of these days, I am going to say "Screw it," and we will head somewhere warm, sunny and sandy for the holidays. But not this year. This year, I just have to get through it. Come January 4th, all will be okay again.

There just seems to be so much to do, and every year, I tell myself I will simplify. But how? When you create traditions (which, in this house, means you did it twice) you have to keep with them, or the kids see the sky falling and run to tell the king. So, I prepare. I buy Christmas Eve Pajamas. I make the Christmas Morning breakfast ahead of time. I take pictures of artfully arranged presents under the tree for the umpteenth time. I call my doctor for a prescription of Xanax. (that last part is just on the wish list inside my head…I don't actually do drugs).

Parents always want to do better for their kids than was done for them, but in my case, my mother set the bar quite high when it comes to Christmas. She has a knack for giving the Perfect Gift, Just What I Always Wanted, and unfortunately, that talent skipped a generation. Don't get me wrong, I know how to give good gifts. But I don't have a sixth sense about it. I suppose that I will have to content myself with my writing prowess and my wit. Oh, and my humility.

Even with preparation, I am terrified I will forget something and it will be too late. I guarantee that on Dec. 24th at about 9 p.m. I will, in a panic, realize that the gifts aren't quite even, and send my husband out into the cold, foraging for toys at the local drug store that is open until midnight. This happens every year. When making cookies? I will get halfway through the recipe and remember that I needed butter. Or shortening, that I swear I purchased last week, but cannot find. Again with the venturing out into the cold in search of baking supplies. He is so good to me.

I am worried I am doing it wrong, I have a master list of gifts for Christmas morning. Santa isn't the only one who makes a list and checks it twice! Mine is a symbol chart with the gifts in numerical order. I color code the wrapping paper to reduce the chance of JBug getting a Star Wars Lego set or JBean, the bug phobic getting an ant farm. Drop the ball once, and they never let you live it down. Now I remember who belongs to what gift. But it means having six different kinds of wrapping paper, and I like lots of different colors, so the wrap has to be in complementary colors. We don't discuss the Bowing of the Presents…of course there must be bows and curling ribbon. It's a sickness. After comes the arranging of the presents… they all must be seen correctly, with the small ones in front of the larger ones, and mixed up according to who they belong to. No wonder I am tired.

Still, as much as I obsess, as much as I worry, it all seems to come together, every year. And the results are worth it. When I hear the excited whispers on Christmas morning, feign sleep and wait for my little one to wake me with giggles and "Santa was here!" I remember why I do it. Come to think of it, it's why I do most everything: the joy on the faces of my children. Seen through their eyes, I can finally find the magic that this old jaded heart was missing. It's then that I remember what Christmas is all about.

T, who wishes you and yours the happiest of holidays

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

As a parent I could be on thin ice..but not tonight

Tonight the kids and I attended the opening night of Disney on Ice: World of Fantasy. Littles was really looking forward to it, asking a few times this week when we would be going. Tonight was the night. We were there for media night, along with other bloggers and press staff. It was a new experience for me, and one that I hope to repeat soon!

It was a rather cold night, so we stood outside, huddled together for warmth. JBean was so excited though, she barely felt the frigid wind. And I had a new camera to keep me occupied. JBear did karate katas to stay warm.

Once inside, we headed to the preshow, where we saw Cinderella and the newest Disney princess, Tiana. JBean had just seen Princess and the Frog, so she was very happy to see "Tiana" up close. Along the way, there were stations with princess gowns to be gawked at as well.

Once the preshow was over, we snagged a couple of hot dogs and headed in to our seats. Everywhere, were vendors trying to sell us overpriced concessions, marketed to the little ones in an effort to shame Mama into purchasing plastic cups filled with rainbow snowcones, light-up fairy wings and tulip hats wrapped around cotton candy. As you can see, I was not able to resist the siren call of the hat.

The show itself was typical kid fare, vignettes of Little Mermaid, Lion King and Cars, along with the newer Tinkerbell/Pixie Hollow franchise. The first half of the show was the former; the second half was the latter. My children really enjoyed the first half of the show, as did I. The costumes and staging were interesting, and played well in the arena. The skating was good, though not expert Olympic level. Still, it worked.

After Intermission, the Tinkerbell portion of the show was next. My little one liked this...she loves fairies. My 11 year old son was a bit more reserved, though. He thought it was not as good as the first half. Honestly, I agreed with him: maybe it was the familiarity of the songs in the first half, but the second half just didn't grab me. I also think since I haven't really seen the Tinkerbell animated movies that the show was based upon, I didn't have a lot to compare it with. As I said, my little one, the target audience member, of course, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Would I go again? Yes, I would. When we arrived home, my little one kept saying over and over again, "Thank you Mama for taking me to the show! I had So Much Fun!"

It doesn't get any better than that.

T, who figures it's all worth it, right?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My little lamb found her way home

Well, The Nutcracker is done and over this year, and another costume is but a memory. Jbean wasn't in love with this year's dance or the costume, but it was still pretty cute. The production was at a local community theatre, and it was very nicely staged. ... of course we all love the result, but it is a lot of work getting there! And she is still so young...if she sticks with ballet, I cannot imagine what our holidays will look like. We already had rehearsals most Sunday afternoons in October and November, and Jean only had a small part. I think the older girls who audition for solos just about live at the studio! (and it showed, they are all really very good!) I mentioned before how worried I was about her being able to master her dance, but she did really well! It wasn't perfect, but then, that isn't as important at this level. It is important to relax and have fun. As they get older, their technique improves.

Big brother was on hand to cheer her on, and though it isn't his favorite, he was good at supporting her. Grandma Sue was able to be there, and that meant a lot to JBean, too. JBean loves her instructor, who also owns the studio.

Jbug couldn't be there, she was in rehearsal for her own production. They start their run this Friday, though I have been running since she signed up. Often, they both had to be somewhere at the same time. So that was fun. Still, it is a very good experience for them both, so I am willing to overlook a bit of inconvenience.

T, who is breathing again, at least for a minute or so

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Hannukah from Adam Sandler (and me)

I am not Jewish, but this song has been stuck, like an earworm, in my head for a week now. Now it's stuck in your head, too. You're welcome.

Adam Sandler - The Hannukah Song (Pt. 1)

Chanukah Song Pt. 2

this is an awful video intro, so go past the first 30 seconds or so...I couldn't find another copy of it

Chanukah Song Pt 3.

Because 2 just wasn't enough

T, who hates gin and tonic-a

Saturday, December 12, 2009

She's a tough little nut to crack

"Mama, I don't LIKE it!" My JBean wasn't happy. Although this is not that uncommon, it was still a concern. The Nutcracker was coming up, and she is due to perform.

Last year, she was a flower. "I liked being a flower mama. Flowers are graceful, and princess-y. It was a pretty dance." This year, they are lambs. She is less-than-thrilled.
"I hate the Lamb Dance! It's stupid. The costume is silly, I look like a little kid." I figured reminding her that is indeed what she is? Not so helpful.

Early on, I told her she didn't have to dance if she didn't want to. The Stage Mother? I am the furthest thing from that person. You won't see me pushing my children against their will. I have a theory about extra-curricular activities: if it isn't fun, what's the point? This may be because I was, if not born with two left feet, in possession of them now. Dancing well is hard for me, and I don't have autism. Still, if I were to try to dance, with actual choreography, you would think I was having a seizure of some sort.

I have given her every opportunity to bow out gracefully. She won't be a prima ballerina; she is still in the first-level class. All of her friends have pretty much moved up a level. She just isn't ready. As a parent, my heart hurts just a little bit for her. I worry as she gets older, girls will make fun of her. But she won't quit. She assures me that she wants to dance. And she does. She just doesn't love this dance. Still, she is trying, and that's all we can ask. To me, that in itself is a victory.

Now I am looking for a triumph over the fear I have for her. The great, white-hot worry that wakes me at night. I think of the time that is coming, soon, or not-so-soon, when the girls look at her and laugh. When they look at her, whispering behind their hands. When it hits her just how behind she is, and that without 10,000 hours, she just isn't going to get those dance solos that she may be wanting. She will be tried, and found less than adequate. And though we cannot keep our children from pain, it is still a very difficult thing to watch. A lump in my throat and tears pricking my eyes, I wait.

T, who loves her little lamb

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Disney On Ice is coming!

The holidays are upon us and in between the mad rush to get JBean to Nutcracker rehearsals and performances and JBug to church musical rehearsals and productions and all three of the kids to band rehearsals and the concert, and decorating the house, getting a tree, stringing lights,finding a parking place, shopping, cussing because they're out of what I really wanted to buy, wrapping presents and baking and basting a turkey (WHEW!) {BREATHE}

We are taking time out to see Disney on Ice: World of Disney. JBean is excited. You can get more information about the show, including line up and dates.

And to sweeten the deal, Disney on Ice has passed on a deal to you, my readers, as well. Click over to Sweet Talkin', my review blog, to get the scoop.

T, who is making memories for her children, if it kills me

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

fun with pi (Pie?)

This is one of my favorite videos...and pretty much what being owned by a cat is like:

My children love this, and adopted the finger pointing to mouth with the plaintive "MROW?" as the universal sign around here for, "Hey, I need something to eat!" It gets my attention and they think it's cute. (it is, but shhh!)

So, with that in mind, last night, my daughter, JBug, who is pretty tech-savvy, sent me this through my IM:

So I responded with a link to this:

Yes, we are geeks. What of it?

T, who may or may not have important exchanges through IM and never a word spoken

What's the geekiest thing you did this week?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Etnies is so serious about safety...I might actually let my son skate. Maybe.

He wants a skateboard. I want him to keep his body intact. So, for years, I have vetoed the skateboard requests. Well, not exactly vetoed, I have simply said, "When you're older." He doesn't get that I am putting him off. He first started asking when he was 7. Visions of scrambled brains fanned across the sidewalk filled my head when I answered: "When you are 10." It seemed a long way off at the time. Now that he is 11, he is asking again, repeatedly. We're at an impasse, and I have to take him seriously. But I am worried.

EtniesImage via Wikipedia

Understand that I am the mother who made her oldest daughter sit in a booster seat until past the 6th grade because she wasn't tall enough or heavy enough to sit without it. When they say 8 years or 80 lb. I take that seriously! My littlest one, at 8, is still in a booster seat and will be for the foreseeable future. I was the mom who made the kids wear bike helmets long before it was law. I have seen too many of those brain-crushing YouTube videos to feel comfortable otherwise. And what about stubbed toes, broken feet? I am thinking of ordering bubble wrap to wrap around the kid to keep him in one piece.

So when Etnies, an Orange County-based sports shoe and apparel company, invited the bloggers from OC Family to visit their headquarters, I have to admit I didn't know what to expect. I know many swear by skateboarding, but when the force for skateboarding can be 17x that of standing still? Well, call me over-protective, but I am not a happy mama. I am concerned about safety.

Fortunately, so is Etnies. With the only biomechanics lab for skateboarding in the world, they are concerned with safety and performance for skateboarders. With features in their shoes like a reinforced toe box to protect feet from impact, and patented cushioning in the shoe as well, it helps me feel just a bit better about protecting my son's extremities. The owner Pierre was a professional boarder, and many who work there are serious about the sport, too. The company is all about innovation. The employees at etnies clearly are passionate about what they do. Clad in jeans and flannel (oh, the flannel!) they seem happy to be there. They were kind, helpful and gave us cupcakes!

And? The shoes are nice looking, with a ton of variety. Because face it, it doesn't matter how well-made or what safety features are involved if the kid thinks the shoes are ugly and won't wear them. Once I get a chance to get pads, helmet and bubble wrap, my son may just find a skateboard underneath the Christmas tree this year.

Even mama couldn't resist the shopping spree and I had a hard time deciding which shoe I wanted. (I will tell you that their womens' shoes seem to run a bit narrow, so if your foot is on the wider side, like mine, you might want to order a size up, or even try on a pair first. Because they have such a molded footbed, they don't give a lot of room for wider feet. However, because I love the shoes so much, I'm ignoring that. I have to do that with a lot of shoes, it is my curse).

In any case, don't say I never gave you anything, because etnies is giving you a special deal, too. Just in time for Christmas. Click over to my review blog, Sweet Talkin' to get your deal.

T, who loves to showcase local businesses

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

So. How was YOUR day?

For reasons I cannot go into, I neeeeed my dryer! Guess I will be headed to the laundromat tomorrow. Don't ask.

T, who hopes your day is better than mine

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fun with Closed Captioning OR Yes, my son is..unique

click to embiggen

Life with kids is always interesting. We were watching Star Trek tonight and we needed to put the closed captioning on over the noise of the clothes dryer. It didn't work so well, as you can see.

Me: What?? What crazy person typed this?!
JBug: they need some serious spellcheck!
Me: This is not going to work! How can we hear what they are saying?
JBear: It’s ok, I can read it, I speak Idiot.
Me: “…”

T, who never knew my son was bilingual

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

T, who is eating PIE

Monday, November 23, 2009

An apple a day means I drive all the way out to nowhere: Riley's Farm

Recently, I braved the freeways, with my G1 GPS (which, if you don't know, is trying to kill me) and my kids and I went with our homeschool group to Riley's Farm, for an amazing field trip. For those who don't know, Riley's Farm is located in Oak Glen, out by Yucaipa. It takes a little over an hour to get there from North Orange County. The roads are a bit windy, so make sure that you are nice and awake and your windshield is clean!

Once there, it is like stepping back in time. JBear was able to help press the apples and make apple cider. Apparently, the colonists also made hard cider, but of course, we didn't get any of that! The apples they used were a bit too soft, so they didn't let us drink it, since it wasn't pasteurized. As if I would, anyway. That little bit of history is a just a bit too authentic…no dysentery for us! Hard cider helped the colonists as it fermented and created good bacteria. It allowed them to eat all kinds of nastiness that would make us really ill. (you probably don't want to dwell on that).

The kids made candles, dipping the candle in the wax. In colonial times, each candle had to be dipped by hand, over and over, a very time-consuming process. The colonists boiled bayberries to get their wax. Bayberries had a low-smoke level, so they were ideal for candles. We, of course, just buy Yankee candles, and call it a day.

The kids played colonial games, hoop and stick, graces, played with a small hoop and two sticks (see a pattern here?) , and horseshoes. JBear was probably pining for his DS, but he never said a thing.

There was colonial music, as our guide treated us to some beautiful pennywhistle(also known as a "flipple flute" I didn't make that up!) renditions of "Star of the County Down." Since I love The Chieftains, and James Galway, I was only too happy to listen. Yeah, so I am old. Sue me. The kids got caramel apples, and we settled down under the shade of a large tree. The family dog was roaming around, and it was just a really nice place to be.

After our rest, the kids were able to practice writing with a quill. They agreed it would have been nice to be schooled in colonial times. Spelling didn't matter at all, what matter was how beautiful your penmanship was. Of course, that's where we part ways…writing with a quill is ridiculously hard! Once you get it down and your ink is somewhat even, you have to dip again. and, it blotches. Creating quills was a profession taking a skilled artisan. Quills usually came from geese or turkeys. Swan quills were used by the well-to-do. RSVP pens come from Office Depot. Right down the street. $3 for 2. I win.

Weaving was our next stop. Believe it or not, it was a man's job. The women carded the wool, and spun the thread, but the men wove it into cloth. Interesting fact: there weren't many spinning wheels, taxes were too high from Britain. Instead, they used a drop spindle. A simple loom isn't that hard to make. Have you ever heard the term "warp and weft?" It acutally comes from weaving. Warp is the yarn drawn side-to-side. Weft is the yarn drawn up and down. Weaving isn't that hard, and once you get to the end of the row, you go back and do the opposite of what you just did. Perfect for teenagers! And, if she made her own clothes, she would think twice before she just had to have that newest in-fashion shirt. I am so evil.

And of course we left just in time to hit traffic. I drove home, and we were starving. So I stopped to get us some lunch and afterwards, got lost trying to get back to the freeway. One thing about me, I am a smart cookie. But I am crummy with directions. Give me a choice, I will probably go the wrong way, which is a recipe for stress. My Google G1 GPS (which relies on Google Maps) was not helpful, and that made me anxious. I had missed one freeway, and was on another, because in Southern California, you can't get very far without using the freeway. But Google Maps? It didn't even recognize where I was to get me home. I had to call my JPS (JNerd Positioning System) so he could tell me how to find my way back to the place I belong. After sitting in traffic, I finally did pull into the driveway, and we were all pretty tired. We had a lot of fun. But I think we will stick close to home for a while!

T, who is very thankful for convenience

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wanted: 10 minutes peace, but I'll settle for 5..ok make that 3

"Parents are not particularly interested in justice, they are interested in quiet." -Bill Cosby

I am a pretty easy going person, for the most part. No, really, I am. Unless I am tired, and then all bets are off. I can be irritable, easily frustrated, noise sets my teeth on edge. This week, I haven't been sleeping very well. I just got new braces (the clear ego is intact) and they are making it hard to rest. Also, there is a lot going on, and sleep is what suffers. I don't want to make my friends' problems about me… but one of my best Internet friends just found out her husband's cancer has reoccurred, and I am hurting badly for them. Also, another Internet friend is in a hospital ICU fighting for her life back. A good friend is being absolutely screwed over by her ex husband. My daughters have been fighting illness. And me? I am just trying to find some justice, some equilibrium and some peace.

Unfortunately, my youngest, JBean, doesn't understand what "lower your voice," "be quiet, please," "silence" or "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, NO MORE NOISE!" means. She has no idea how to do anything quietly. It just isn't in her makeup. Ok, maybe it's the autism, or maybe it's just her, but enough. Her stim is making noise. She sings, constantly. She sings while playing. She sings in the bathroom. She tries to sing while she eats. She sings herself to sleep. And my ears are tired.

I cannot tell you what I would give for silence. And not the silence where someone else jumps in with a request once they hear dead air for more than 5 seconds, either. Gee, do you think that happens a lot around here? Part of autism is not always getting the nuances of the meter of conversation and where it is ok to break in. So there is a lot of stepping on others' words here. The kids talk over one another, and don't always hear each other. And I am just ready for no more chatter.

I am thinking, an hour, maybe two, of just blessed quiet. If you ask her to be quiet, she talks at the level she thinks is quiet, which is just below the decibels of a jackhammer. And she is just about as repetitive. Driving her noise into my brain, until I want to run screaming, into traffic. Now, this doesn't seem like such a bad plan, really. I figure one of two things will happen: 1) a car will run me over and save me from the noise or 2) they will commit me for being unstable.

And really, the hospital is quiet, for the most part. And I would get to lie in bed all day. And the hat factory wouldn't be such a bad place, when you think about it. Maybe I would finally learn to knit. Hats? Either way, the hospital or the funny farm, at least it would be quiet with no more demands. Three square meals a day,that I don't have to cook. Someone taking care of my every need. Time to nap. Oh, don't tell me you haven't thought about it! Hell, that would just about be a vacation. Where do I sign up?

T, who just wants a break

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Help for Anissa

For those of you who read on Feedburner, I wanted to be sure you get this info. I will update with the address of where to send stuff...but I have to run. Still, DONATE HERE for Anissa!

T, who is still praying

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Prayers for Anissa

She helped me eat kittens on Fridays. Well, we didn't actually eat them, we just discussed it. You see, we were annoyed with Follow Friday on twitter, and wanted to come up with something else.

Anissa is a trip. There is no other way to describe her. When I hang with her, I feel like I have been on vacation. On twitter she makes me laugh out loud. I can't drink anything when we are tweeting one another, lest I bathe my monitor! At Blogher she made me snort. Ask her about sex toys. In short, she's awesome. In September, I had the great pleasure of having dinner and drinks with her, Heather, Jim, Lori and Diane, from HP, a good friend of Anissa's. when she was here in town for a Disney event. We had a great time, and some wonderful conversation afterwards. Everything from favorite drink to gifted kids. Because that's what you can expect from Anissa. A laugh, some serious thought, then more laughs. Except for today.

She's a bloggy mogul, Aiming Low was her brainchild. She's a strong mother, she has three children. And Peyton just celebrated ONE YEAR cancer free. She has a lot to be thankful for. But today.

Today, Anissa had a stroke. I know, I was floored, too. There isn't much to tell. She is in ICU, and I will update when I know more. My heart aches for her family, but I know she is strong. She is a survivor. She is my friend. If you live in the Atlanta area and want to help, please check out this link. If you want to do something, and don't know what to do? Please pray for Anissa, and her family.

And Anissa, I am saving you a kitteh to eat.

T, who has a heavy heart

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Clicky Web Analytics