Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why I Don't Like Nigeria

If your e-mail address is in my contacts list, you probably got an e-mail like this yesterday:

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, I am sorry that i did not inform you about my trip to Manila, Philippines. I and my family came down here to Manila, Philippines for a short vacation and we were mugged at a gun point last night at the park of the hotel where we lodged, all cash,credit cards and cell phones were stolen from us. We have been to the embassy and the police here but they are not helping issues at all, our flight leaves in less than 24hrs from now and we having problems settling the hotel bills.
The hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the hotel bills, right now we are freaked out, All i need from you now is just a loan to pay for the hotel bills and to get our flight back to the next 24 Hours. I promise to pay the money back to you as soon as we get back home because the hotel manager won't let us leave until i pay for the hotel bills...
I need your help.

It may have my name on it, but it was not from me.  After some searching, I discovered that someone in Nigeria hacked into my e-mail account and sent that message to everyone in my address book.  All 200 of them.  And my old playgroup.  That's around 500 more people.  And my neighborhood's yahoo group.  That's around 2000 more people.

2700 people got this from me yesterday.  I am so embarrassed.

I spent several hours yesterday changing passwords, asking my e-mail provider to restore my contacts list so that I could send out a warning/apology e-mail and fielding phone calls, texts and FB messages.  At one point, I was talking to someone on my home phone about it when my cell phone rang with someone else.  To top it off, the little boy next door chose that exact moment to ring the doorbell and ask if the kids could play.  That's when I lost it.

Twenty four hours later, I'm pretty much laughing about it because what else am I going to do, but I'm still ticked at the jerk who broke into my account and sent out that trash.

The least he could have done was use proper grammar.  "I and my family"?  Lower case i instead of upper case?  Sheesh.

I did learn a few things from it all, though:

1.  People really do care about us.  One of Ryan's brothers called and left a panicked message on our answering machine because he was worried.  Several more people expressed concern via text and FB messaging, too.  I found this quite heart-warming.

2.  There are people who know me so well that they knew I would not take my kids out of school to go on an international vacation and that even in a panic, I would use the correct grammar when communicating with them (both true, btw).  I found this pretty funny.

3.  I had way too many people in my contacts list.  I spent time this morning deleting and organizing it, so at least something good came out of it all.

So if you see something similar from one of your friends or family members in your in-box, delete it immediately.  And then crack jokes about how they got back from the Philippines so quickly the next time you see them because after all is said and done, they might as well laugh about it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oh, The Irony

Before we moved to the Land of Fruit and before we knew Evan was coming along, I decided to open a business making chocolates.  I got a tax ID number, a friend of mine created a logo for me and I was well on my way establishing a line of products and a customer base in our quirky little Big City neighborhood.

And then Evan came along and we had to find a bigger house out in the 'burbs.

I made and sold some chocolates to a few people over the next couple of years, but after three business tax returns in a row reflecting an income of zero, I officially closed the business at the end of last year.  Considering that the new homebaker's state law only allows us to sell cakes, cookies and breads out of a home kitchen, I figured it was the best thing to do anyway.

And then a book club friend asked me to make twenty of these for Valentine's Day:

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Then I used the leftover chocolate to make some sweet treats for the kids:

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(It's hard to see, but the last one is Chewbacca.)

Evan liked his so much that he wants me to make a bunch of them as the party favors for his upcoming birthday party.

So six weeks after I close a business that has been all but dead for three years I get a couple of orders.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Favorite Girl in the Whole World

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This girl surprises me every day.

She's nearly ten and sometimes I catch a glimpse of her in a certain light or with a particular look on her face and I think about how lucky I am and how terrified I am of how fast she's growing up.

She's quirky.  She loves mythology.  She adores Coldpl@y so much that she's chosen one of their songs as her piano recital piece this year.  Her dream is to travel to Europe to see Rome, Athens and London.  She doesn't follow the "in" crowd.  She can't stand Just!n B!eber, doesn't give a hoot about her school outfits or what her hair looks like and doesn't think twice about spending her money at a bookstore rather than on mani/pedis with her friends (yes, girls her age actually do this!).   She's probably the only one in her class who gets excited to watch D0wnton Abb@y with her mother on Friday evenings and I'm certain she's the only one who uses the show as a springboard when coming up with sentences using her vocabulary words: "It was Matthew's destiny to take over the running of the estate".

She starts middle school next year.  Middle school.  I remember middle school.  It was horrible:  changing classes, trying to remember a locker combination for the first time, getting "the talk" in the library with all of the other nervous and giggly girls.  Cliques began to form.  Alliances were made.  Gossip regarding the opposite sex dominated lunch time conversations.  My two best friends moved away the summer before middle school and it became Lord of the Flies in a school setting to those of us who didn't already have a core group of friends.

In our attempts to keep Syd protected from all of the nastiness for just a bit longer, Ryan and I toured and then enrolled her in our school district's GT (gifted and talented) middle school.  She finally passed their dumb test (after being just three points away last year) and earned the opportunity to attend this special school that (supposedly) lets the kids focus more on their interests and less on standardized testing.

It sounds perfect, right?  Well, it would be if any of her friends were going there, but none of them are so she'll be just like me and start middle school without her buddies.  The simple solution would have been to have her attend the GT program at her zoned school, but her friends wouldn't be in her classes there, either.  So it's a new school for my sweet girl.  I'm praying she has a better experience than I did.

I have no idea how to protect her from the inevitable heartbreaks that come with middle school friendships.  How do you explain to a ten year old that some people are just not worth their time when you've spent the previous decade insisting that they treat others like they would want to be treated?  I can remember learning this cruel lesson for myself at that age and for the life of me I cannot figure out how to spare her from the same.  Deep down, I know she  has to learn these things for herself.  It's part of growing up.  It sure does stink, though.

As for some of the other social aspects of middle school, I feel more prepared to help her.  I got this book for her and she has devoured it as if it were an instruction manual.  Sadly, she is Type A like me, so she's going to be in for a shock when she discovers that her experience is not going to be exactly like the one described in the book.  I see myself introducing her to classic Judy Blume books at that point.  And we've already had a couple of versions of "the talk" so she won't be shocked when the counselor pulls the girls together to discuss the change.  I already feel like she's way more prepared than I was, especially when my mother's version of "the talk" was, "Do you know what a pad is?  Good.  Let me know when you need me to buy some."  This is probably more of a talk than she got and it's certainly way more than her mother got at that age.  My grandmother once told me she went six months thinking she was dying from some terrible form of cancer until her older sister clued her in to what was going on.  My kid clearly has no idea how lucky she is.

Of course, middle school could be great for her.  She could make a boatload of friends, find a new bff and have no problems adjusting to the changes she facing.  I really hope she does have a great time and I'll do my best to help her any way that I can.  However, I think I'll stock up on some boxes of tissues just in case; even if she doesn't need them, I have a feeling I will.

Monday, February 4, 2013

On the Positive Side....

So that last post was pretty depressing wasn't it?  In my defense, I was on my third consecutive week of having at least one sick kid at home (strep for one, ear infection for another, respiratory infection for the third) and I'd just had to crawl into the dog crate to clean up vomit before 7:30 in the morning.  No one should have to do that before breakfast.

The dog thing isn't as bad I made it sound.  Yes, he chews on stuff.  And yes, he digs gigantic holes that I'm sure will be the cause of more than one sprained ankle in the future.

But....Max is a dog.

He is not a child.  As much as I like to compare him to a toddler, he is not one.  He will not grow out of most of his dog-like behaviors and I realized that I just have to accept that.  I guess it's like accepting our children for who they are and not who we want them to be.

So I'm trying to adjust my attitude and look on the bright side of things.  Silver linings and all that....

~ The kids don't leave toys all over the house anymore.  They know that Max will chew them up so for the past month, all toys have stayed in bedrooms.  This is marvelous and unprecedented.

~ Because of this, I have not stepped on a single lego brick in weeks.  My feet are thankful.

~They also don't leave backpacks, socks, shoes or jackets on the floor because they know Max will drag them off and chew them up, too.  The entryway is no longer an obstacle course of kid items - hurray!

~ Our carpet gets vacuumed a whole lot more often than it did.  This has got to be better for everyone's allergies, don't you think?

~ The kids really are learning about responsibility.  No matter what kind of mood she's in, Syd is in charge of walking the dog twice a day.  Unless she's sick or it's really rainy, she's out there, poop bag in hand, running down the block with him.  All three kids fight over who's going to get him out of his crate in the morning, fill his water bowl, scoop out his food and do the backyard "poop duty".  Fighting over chores.....I certainly didn't think it would happen in my lifetime.

~ The kids' piggy banks are getting full thanks to the backyard "poop duty".  (We pay them fifty cents per poop.)  Now this may seem like a negative because we're paying them, but they like earning their own money and since Syd is saving up to buy a tablet, she is more than eager to do this while I am off to the side gagging.

~ They really do love that dog.  They pet him, play with him and talk to him all the time.  When Evan had to draw some things that he loves for a Valentine's project, the first thing he drew was Max.

Max is going in for his big snip-snip next week and I'm hoping the drop in testosterone will alleviate some of the really annoying things like the biting.  (Seriously, of all the things he does, I think the biting is the most irritating.)  And if that doesn't help, I'm going to call the woman who posted his picture on the neighborhood message board.  She's a dog trainer and has offered to help us with him since we are brand new dog owners.

So we're in it for the long haul, I guess.  But if you come to my house, don't be surprised to see chewed-up dining room curtains and dog hair on my kitchen floor.  I refuse to replace the curtains just have him chew up another set and I cannot for the life of me sweep up all of the dog hair.  I'm beginning to think it appears out of nowhere; I'll sweep and though the dog is nowhere in sight, a pile of hair magically appears off in the corner or under the sink.  How does that happen?!?

But I'm seeing another silver lining here.....I'm thinking sweeping the kitchen floor can be added to Syd's list of chores since she's so eager to help out with the dog.