1) People who will work on you car because it is not safe to drive, in the cold, during the first real week of Fall.
2) Time with family, because you never know how much you will have.
3) People who will go out of there way to prepare your favorite treat on a special day.
4) Making sure the people you care about know you care and that they are appeciated.
5) Spending two days making a cake, so that a kid feels special on her birthday.
6) People who support you when you follow your dreams.
So, today, I want to thank all of those people who care enough about me to show it. And I would like to give a special thanks to my dad and Bear for working so hard to try to get my car running again.
Based on a friends suggestion, I decided to write a two part series on keeping your children safe on-line. I mentioned before that I am geek. I like to use my powers for good. One of the things that I get ask most is, “What do you recommend for keeping my kids safe when they are on the computer?” And my answer is always the same, there is no easy answer. It is more than just some net-nanny software. There are several things involved. I am going to put them in order of what I think it most important to less important.
1. Talk to your children!!!! – You can install all the software that you want. You can buy fancy programs that will e-mail you when they do anything on-line. You can even install some really fancy software that will monitor everything that they do from typing to mouse-clicks and what web pages they visit. This will not keep them safe. Talk to you kids about the dangers. ”Stranger Danger” is just as important on-line as it is in person. Explain that just because someone says they are “12 m CA” (12 years old male from California), they may not be. People have reasons to lie that may not be evil. Maybe they just think that being from California is cool but they are really from Rhode Island. Encourage caution and set specific rules. The first and most important rule should be, NEVER EVER give out personal information, including phone numbers and addresses but also where you go to school.
2. Keyloggers are a parents best friend. - No, I am serious. Install one on your child’s computer today! Stop, reading and go install it already… Keyloggers are not spying, its responsible parenting. I am not saying log your child’s activities and read them every night. I am saying, keep the records and if you ever get that feeling like something is wrong, use the info. I am sure we have all heard a story about young children getting lured out of their home by an on-line predator. If you don’t keep a log of what they talk about it, how will anyone know where they could have gone. Even if your computer is out in the open where everyone can see what is going on, it doesn’t mean you know what is being said.
3. Anti-virus and Anti-spyware should be installed and up to date at all times. - There is some excellent free for home use ones out there. Do not assume that if your computer is running fine that you don’t need these tools. There are viruses and spy-ware out there that can spy on your computer and see how it is used. This will not only compromise your on-line bank account but your child’s safety as well. Viruses can do some much today. There are even ones that can turn on your built in or external web-cam and allow the virus creator to watch you through web-cam images. Please install this today, if it is not already installed on your system.
In the next segment, I will talk about parental controls and content filtering. It is easier than you think and can be implemented at little to no cost to you.
The girls, my mom and I went shopping all together this weekend. I needed a dress for a friend’s wedding. It seemed like a good time for all of us to go out together. It was the first time that it was just us. And we all had an absolute ball.
First, we had lunch with Bear and my dad. Overall, it was a pretty rowdy affair. The girls were excited to go shopping and my parent’s newfoundland dog, Maxx, was excited that the girls were there and had food. Once we were all packed up in my mom’s SUV, everyone quieted down. The girls pretty much kept to themselves while my mom and I chatted in the front seat.
When we got to the store, everyone spread out. I heard my name being called a hundred times. Everytime I looked up someone was holding up a dress and saying "How about this one?" I knew what kind of dress I wanted. I made sure to try on atleast one dress that everyone offered.
It was actually pretty great to feel like a giant doll. Everyone wanted me ot look great and feel good about the dress choice I made. I was never a girly-girl or one for getting all prettied up. But I am looking forward to wearing this dress.
I am a geek! A huge geek! Not just a blog geek but an all around geek. I collect gadgets, comics, video games and play games like this! I read fantasy novels and watch cheesy SciFi movies. And you know what, I am damn proud of it!
I am professional computer nerd. I am even Microsoft Certified. Even when I am not working, people call me with computer questions all the time and for the most part I am excited to try to figure out what their problem could be. I enjoy the puzzle of it. I enjoy hunting the problem down. Its fun for me.
I love super-heroes and Knights of the Round table. I actually collect books on King Arthur, both fictional novels and historical research. I have watched every King Arthur movie ever made, at least once. I even have a few games that are designed around the concept of King Arthur and his knights.
The kids think I am pretty nerdy. Bear thinks I am pretty cool. We enjoy going into book stores together to get and look at more geeky stuff because he is just as nerdy as I am. I am not sure if I embarrass the kids or not when I am in the book store or the comic book shop but they always roll their eyes at me. The Show even calls us “Adork-able”.
So, my confession is that I am shamelessly geeky and I do not care. I laugh at fart jokes and make odd Star Trek references. I watch Star Wars and play all the video games. I collect comic books and keep them in plastic sleeves. I play D&D and I thought this commercial was hilarious.
Because “Dungeon Master’s don’t have levels, dork!”
I have decided to start writing again. Not just blogging but really writing. I am working on a short story idea and just playing around with it. I forgot how much I enjoyed writing. I am doing some character building for my main characters and it is great.
I won’t tell you what it is about yet. I am just having fun with it and I don’t want to add any undue pressure on myself to work on it or finish it right away. I am considering self-publishing if I ever finish. But, mostly, I am working to have fun and not trying to push myself too hard.
I can’t believe how much I missed having a pen in my hand. Its amazing that I didn’t even know how much I missed it. It keeps me centered and helps me when I am stressed out.
Actual conversation between The Mother Hen and The Tyrant:
The Mother Hen: “Stop acting like a barbarian and eating with your hands!”
The Tyrant: “I am not a barbarian! Forget it! I am not eating!” <she throws chicken back on her plate>
Me: “Just ignore her, honey. I know you can do it, you ignored me earlier.”
The Tyrant: “Okay, I will.” <goes back to eating with her hands>
The Mother Hen: “Stop it! You have rice in your hair!”
The Tyrant: “I am sorry, Daddy. Did you say something?”
As a kid, I was always shy. I would hide behind my parents legs whenever I met new people. I always spoke very softly and often went unnoticed. At family gatherings, in a house full of out-spoken people, the adults would often look around and say, “Where’s [WickedStepMom]?” I always preferred to be over looked and unnoticed.
My mother, who has never been shy of afraid of anyone, spent a lot of energy trying to break me out of my shell. She always wanted me to stand up for myself and make myself noticed becasue I got walked on a lot. After all this woman, as a girl refused to move out of the way when a bully wanted her to move. She was standing at the play-ground with her older sister when an older kid on a bike told her to move out of the way or she would get run over. My mom, despite her sister’s protest, stood her ground even when the kid rammed into her, really trying to run her over. Even today, this is still my favorite story about her.
As I grew, she tried harder and harder to break me out of my shyness. She would dance and sing through the isle ways at grocery store to try to get me to join in. She would talk to strangers, make a lot of noise and generally try to get people’s attention. She never cared if they thought she was crazy. ”I doubt I will every see these people again,” she would always tell me.
There was one time, back when Tickle Me Elmo was all the rage. She pouted in K-mart and threatened to throw a temper tantrum if she couldn’t continue to play with and talk to Tickle Me Cookie Monster “for just a little while longer.” She even carried him around in the cart for a while just so she could play with him, (In case you are wondering, yes, she did get a TMX Elmo from my Dad for X-mas last year. I even helped him track one down.)
Over the years, she has made me turn red on several occasions. A few times, I was even convinced I would die, right there are on the spot. I survived and even eventually came out of my shell.
I was even daring enough to take the stage in a high school play as a teenager. She and my Dad came opening night. After the play, they gave me a doen roses. The card inside, was in her hand-writting and it simply said, “You are special.” I still have that card tucked away in a treasure box.
The one day that will stick in my memory forever was not too long ago. We were in the grocery store together and I started dancing in the isle way. She looked at me, full of shock and in her best mom voice said, “Stop it! You’re embarrassing me!” I completelt lost it. I laughed until I cried and she was laughing with me. We laughed until our sides hurt and people were staring at us. I didn’t even care.
I am not snarky, loud, confident, and out-spoken. I only hesitate for a moment when Bear and I butt-wiggle through the mall. We walklike monkey’s at the zoo and scream songs at the top of our lungs in public. I rarely have a shell anymore. I know that it is in no small part because of my mom.
So, I was looking at my search engine widget today and I found this.. “how to make step mom shut up.” And I started thinking about it. And here is my answer… bribery. Out right bribery will get me to shut up. So, since my birthday is coming up, I thought I would list all of the things that I can be bribed by.
1) Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream – pretty much any flavor. I would be too busy eating to say much of anything.
2) Coffee – really good coffee, not any of that crappy freeze dried stuff. I will be too busy enjoying my coffee to talk.
3) A certificate for a professional massage. I will have to leave the house to do this, and therefore cannot be talking to anyone!
4) The new Indiana Jones Lego Star Wars video game. It will provide hours of enjoyment and I will be too busy smacking lego guys to talk! Its a win-win!
5) If you are feeling really generous, a nice new car. I will be busy cleaning and polishing it and won’t have any time for that petty talking business.
6) If you don’t have too much money in your pocket, I can be bribed with donuts brought to me, in bed while I watch football on Sunday. I will be talking.. er yelling at the Lions by the afternoon and wont have time to harrass anyone else anyway.
But, I am thinking that the person who searched for this wasn’t talking about me specifically. But, just in case if was one of The Tribe, I want to have my bases covered!
(Also, I am going to be making a new allergy page that will feature sulfate-free products that I use. So, look for it soon, even if you are not allergic, it should still be a pretty good resource.)
I have been thinking a lot lately about the kind of home I think that the Tribe needs to have. And as much as we need a bigger house and bigger cars, we really have made a home out of what we currently have. To me, home is where you can go to relax and be yourself, where you will always feel safe and comforted. And that is what our home is like.
Home is where The Tyrant’s unicorn gets “emergency surgery” for the hole in its stomach. It is where she care reassure all of her animals that Sparkle (the unicorn’s name) will be okay because “[WickedStepMom] knows how to fix it and it will be okay.”
Home is where The Show can shout “Daddy! I need help with my homework!” and never feel stupid for asking. It is where she can take risks and make guesses without someone telling her that she is dumb for being wrong.
Home is where The Mother Hen can collect stuff animals and still be a kid. Where she can still sleep with them all on her bed and pretend that she is just too lazy to move them.
Home is where we can all be ourselves. It doesn’t matter if they all have their own rooms or if we have that office we have always wanted. We have a home and not just a house. We want a bigger house so that everyone can have their own space. But right now, I think having a home is more important than having space. If we had a million dollars and a huge house, I hope that we would still all pile on the floor in the living room to watch movies together. I also hope that we will still get together for dinner every evening and breakfast on the weekends. I would hope that we could still bake cookies on cold winter days and make s’mores together around the camp fire in the summer time.
Everyone we encounter leaves an impression on our lives. Even those people that we only randomly pass once in our long lives. Each time we acknowledge another person, the impressions we leave on each other are ever lasting.
At the grocery store a stressed woman is standing in line with her three children. Her youngest child has bags under her red eyes. She looks at me, her eyes are pleading. ”Wow, you are in for a long night,” I say. She gives me a small sad smile. As she loads up her cart, I wish her good luck and assure her tomorrow will be a better day.
We are eating lunch at a restaurant. It is one of very few “dates” we are able to make time for. An elderly woman is struggling with the heavy outside door. Bear and I both stand up, he moves first and gestures for me to sit back down. He rushes over and opens the door. He waits for her and then escorts her to the hostess. She just smiles and pats his arm, says nothing.
I feel a tug at my pant leg. The Tyrant is trying to get my attention. ”Can I have a penny?” she asks. Absently, I dig a penny out of my purse and hand it to her. She smiles, “Thank you!”, and skips over to the next line. She hands the penny to another little girl. ”Here, now you can ride the horsey”, she declares. A grateful father looks at me, as The Tyrant skips back to me. ”Thank you, I forgot my pennies today.”
The Mother Hen, The Show, The Tyrant and I are dress shopping for The Mother Hen’s school dance. A sales-lady watches as we are struggling to carry about 20 dresses to the dressing room. ”Let me help you with that,” she says as she grabs half of them. She opens a dressing room and moves a rack close to us so that we don’t have to hold everything. ”She is really nice,” The Show and The Tyrant say. ”Yeah, she is”, The Mother Hen agrees. After trying on several dresses, The Mother Hen comes out wearing her favorite one. Every sales-person and other moms in the store gasp and tell her how beautiful she looks as she twirls around.
Life is all about the impressions we make and the impressions we receive. Each impression, no matter how fleeting, shapes who we are and how we view the world.