Thursday, March 25, 2010

Do you ever consider how much information you put online about your kids, yourself, your friends and your job?

Close up of a computer monitor with keyboard and hard-drive tied together with a chain and pad-lock
I've put a great deal of thought into information on posts and social networks lately. Especially when someone I social network with commented on my "ad nauseam" postings about my toddler.

She wasn't being offensive, and I wasn't offended.

It is true.

I post A LOT of stuff about my daughter--especially on Facebook--so that my parents can feel active in her life.

But is it safe?

I think because we are forced to accept 'friends' on Facebook before they can see our posts, it leads us to some false sense of security. I post information and pictures about my daughter on Facebook that I would never post here...because it's more secure.


You may have already heard, but a Kentucky woman reported that a Facebook 'friend' broke into her house after posting she was going out for the evening.

NewsAndTribune.com reports,"Keri McMullen...said she posted a message on the popular social networking Web site stating that she and her fiancee would be watching a band play at Louisville’s Phoenix Hill Tavern."

She reports that she and her sister both connected with the thief, someone they knew from their past, about six months ago.
“I haven’t seen him in over 20 years,” McMullen
said. “He grew up across the street from us, so I wouldn’t have recognized him. I never would have put two and two together.”
I can't say I'm surprised. It was only a matter of time, and has probably happened more than has been reported.

I think about the security and privacy issue often when I see friends post about their vacation plans or related information online.

I'm guilty of it, too.

There's another Social Networking tool called "Foursquare" that lists TMI (IMHO).

The Foursquare concept is interesting--it allows you to share your real-time location through your cellphone in order to meet up with others, earn points, and, in some cases, discounts, products and services.

And when I say it shares your info, I mean IT.SHARES.YOUR.INFO.

For example, if I check in on Foursquare at a McDonald's, it lists, "Jackie has just checked in at McDonald's, XXX Main Street" and provides a map. The posts can be linked to Twitter and Facebook.

That's a lot of information to put out there in the deep and wide Web world.

Look, I'm not a big, "OOOH! Don't list anything online because the big bad social networking boogeyman is going to get you!" But, I do believe in being safe or, at least safer.

A recent New York Times article discussed online privacy, or lack of, in an unsettling article called "How Privacy Vanishes Online.
“Technology has rendered the conventional definition of personally identifiable information obsolete,” said Maneesha Mithal, associate director of the Federal Trade Commission’s privacy division. “You can find out who an individual is without it.”
So, what can we do? If people are going to find out who we are anyway, no matter what we post on social networks, what should we do?

Just be a little more careful.
It's that simple.

Need help? Check out some of these posts:
Well, I need to jump off. I'm going out tonight. The key is under the mat, right next to the file marked "LOGINS AND PASSWORDS."


Friday, March 19, 2010

If you haven't noticed lately, there are a great deal of moms who work at home, but are also the primary caretaker of their children. You know, the WAHPCTSAHM (Work at Home, Primary Caretaker, Stay at Home Mom).

Mother on Cell Phone Holding Baby
We stay at home. We work from home. We take care of our kids.

They're easy to spot, they have their Blackberry in one hand and their baby in the other.

They're probably not the ones wearing Christian Louboutin shoes (anymore), and they may be in dire need of an updated hair highlight.

They may have a tall coffee stashed somewhere, but probably aren't sitting next to a friend in a coffee shop enjoying it.

You'll have a confusing conversation with them like this:

You: Do you work?
You: Do you have kids?
You: Oh, where do they attend daycare?
WAHPCTSAHM: They don't. They're with me all day.
You: *confused look*

And believe me, from all of us WAHPCTSAHMs: WE GET YOUR CONFUSION.

We live it every day when trying to explain it to our friends, family, and sometimes even our husbands.

It's hard for others to understand that when we steal a few moments away in our home office during the day or at nap time, it's generally not to shop Bloomingdales.

If we post a funny comment on Facebook, it doesn't mean we're not working. Instead, it probably means we popped over to social network about business, saw something unrelated and commented on it while we were there.

Want to understand more about your WAHPCTSAHM?

1. Don't be offended by our incessant Blackberry checking.
When I check my Blackberry during a baby gym class or while I'm at your house, it's probably because I'm waiting for a comment from my editor that needs to be clarified quickly or some other work-related issue. I have my Blackberry so I can work AND ensure that my toddler is able to participate in activities during the day.

2. Social networking isn't just 'social' for us.
When we're blogging or on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site at 3 a.m., it probably isn't to play Farmville. Yes, we may chat about mundane things with others on them. However, our ultimate goal is one thing: to network with others in our business-related area. Which leads me to...

3. If we're blocking you on IM, it doesn't mean we aren't friends.
I use my instant messenger for two things: email alerts and to talk to someone while we're doing business together. Other than that? My IM is 'Off' to (most) others.

4. No, we cannot have drinks, go to a movie, enjoy dinner, attend a Pampered Chef party [or any other socially-related event] with you at night or on the weekend.
For many WAHPCTSAHMs, our 'work day' begins at night or on the weekend after the kids go to bed or our spouse can take the next shift. This means that we will almost always say no to your social event. (Unless you're hosting a party with Colin Farrell. Then I'm SO THERE). But don't be offended. It's us, not you.

5. If we seem distracted during gossip time, we probably are.
We may be at little Jimmy's soccer practice in body, but maybe not in mind. Our brains are running at warp* speed and we're probably constructing an RFP in our head during the mom sideline gathering.

6. We usually can't do play dates at the last minute.
WAHPCTSAHM plan their days (and nights) around their work and child's activity schedule. If we say no to a last minute play date addition, it's probably because we're working.

7. Don't go away mad, just go away.
When we're done at our children's activity, WE'RE DONE. We're probably the first ones to rush out the door (or maybe even rush you out). Don't be offended. We probably have a deadline or want to squeeze in lunch before work...or maybe even a bathroom break.

8. Yes, our house is always a mess.
No, you can't come over.

9. No, we aren't better than you. We're just different.
Look, WAHPCTSAHMs aren't superwomen. There are days we cry. There are days we wonder what the heck we're doing. Yes, there are even days we fantasize about a 'real office' job. However, we chose to make sacrifices in order to raise our child ourselves AND be able to work. Which leads me to...

10. No, we don't like looking like this.
Let's be honest, when you're taking care of a toddler during the day and working at nights and on weekends into the wee hours, something will give. It may be the WAHPCTSAHM's appearance (see shoes and highlights comment above). No, I don't like not getting regular highlights, being 'ponytail girl' all the time, not having trendy clothes or being too exhausted to work out. But that's the way it is...for now. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's called preschool.

You might also like: But, I don't want to share my chocolate chip cookie.

(*I first typed "warped." Coincidence? I think not...)


Monday, March 15, 2010

Have you been watching the new series, "Who do you think you are?" (Fridays, NBC)

Well, I have.
Check that--I've watched ONE and that was enough to give me the bug.

So, I'm tracing my history.
Well, my maternal grandmother's side, to be exact. My great grandmother, Elsie.

I declared my intention to my mother over the weekend by saying, "I'm going to do it! Isn't it EXCITING?!? Haven't you always been CURIOUS?!?"

Her reply?
"Not really. What's Ella doing?"

I can see I'm on my own.

It's really not something that my schedule can permit right now between a toddler and writing, but it is something I can do in those wee hours of the morning when my insomnia usually has me channel surfing infomercials on the 468 cable channels I pay for so they can show, um, stuff they get paid to show.

(I totally almost bought the 6 week body makeover the other day...)


This whole genealogy stuff?
It's really addicting.

You've been forewarned.

In a few short hours over the weekend on Ancestory.com (not a paid endorsement, just where I started), I traced part of my family back to the early 1700s. (*waves at my German ancestors*)

There's something about holding a copy of the handwritten census from 1880 that makes you giddy.
And amused.
For example, the 1880 U.S. Federal Census categories included:

Cannot read
Blind, Deaf
Otherwise disabled

(I won't even comment on the last category in relation to my family. You can probably figure it out own your own...)

I'll blog regularly about my findings. I've already uncovered some juicy stuff--alternate identities, adoptions, intertwining families, possible relation to a Civil War colonial and Senator and more. For now I'll just say, "Oh my darling, Clementine. You are lost and gone forever..."

Wonder where she'll turn up?


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Close-up of chocolate chip cookies stacked high on top of each other
Motherhood is a weird thing.

It is, by far, my best 'accomplishment' in life. However, it is also the hardest thing I've ever done.

I've alluded to it before--that strange, secret code of motherhood perfection that prohibits us from really talking about what is going on with us, our kids and our life since Us + Kids = Someone Else's Life

Well, I'm going to break that code, and I'm just going to say it right up front:

I don't like sharing my chocolate chip cookies with my toddler.

And while we're at it? I don't like

...giving up my television shows for the same episode of Elmo OVER&OVER&OVER again, or

...sticky fingers inside my Diet Coke glass to fish out pieces of ice, or

...listening to the same children's CD EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. in the car, or

...not having a good night's rest in two years because my 'mom ear' is in the permanent ON position, or

...meltdowns at grocery stores, or

...hearing "MINE!" 4,372 times per day (even when it doesn't apply).

There's more, but you get the point.

Does this mean that I don't cherish motherhood as the amazing blessing that is? Of course I cherish it. Heck, I even enjoy it.

Does it mean that I'm human? I'm guessing so, and here's how I know:

You email me to tell me that you agree.

You don't post it on my blog in the public comments (lest someone see what a 'horrible' mom you are), and you certainly don't say it to my face.
But you do use that lovely anonymity of the Internet as a shield.
And that's OK with me. I'll take a hit for the team because there are those who 'unsubscribe' whenever I do a post like this, and those of you who 'whisper' at groups and play dates.

But you're not fooling anyone.

In a recent post, I revealed how I secretly wished the school would just handle potty training so I wouldn't have to do it. A potty training expert commented, "I read potty training stuff for a living and this might be the most awesomely honest thing I've ever read. Good for you."

If this blog is nothing else, it's honest.

So, I know you're out there.
And I know you don't like sharing your chocolate chip cookies, either.
Even if you don't want to admit it.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I have to say, not much surprises me these days. However, I did receive a nice little jolt while I was performing some insomniac channel surfing in the wee hours a few days ago:

Jimmy Johnson is now the spokesperson for ExtenZe--that hokey "male enhancement" drug.


I know.
I thought I would give it a few minutes to sink in for you, too.

Now I'll repeat:

Jimmy Johnson--football coach, Superbowl winner, sports commentator--is THE.SPOKESPERSON.FOR.EXTENZE.

Don't believe me? Check it out:

"Go long with ExtenZe. I do."
TMI, Jimmy.

Also, don't you wonder EXACTLY what they're all going to talk about at the Jimmy Johnson ExtenZe dinner?

This begs another question: Couldn't he just sell his Superbowl ring if he needed money?!?

Dignity, man, DIG.NI.TY.

I just hope my Texas-born husband doesn't find out...
(Sorry honey.)

I think my brain is overloading...