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]
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Clicky Web Analytics