Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Attention Parents of Teens: DECOY APPS, Ever Heard of 'Em? Step 1: Educate.

Ok parents, it's that time again! Two years ago, I wrote Wake Up and Smell the Sexting about Apps for parents to keep their eyes out for. Two years later, these companies have gotten more clever now suddenly coming up with ways to hide the intent of certain apps. Unfortunately, many of our teens have caught on to this as well! Trying to stay one step ahead of them is tough, so I hope this tidbit of information is useful. Our parental technology nemesis goes by the name of DECOY APPS! Google them! And, guess what?

They're free!

These apps look harmless enough. Some have cutesy little icons, some are boring ole calculators, some are flowers, rainbows, and cool designs. The problem? Mom and Dad see them on their kids iPods or iPhones and think nothing of them. In our defense, it isn't like the icon screams "I'm hiding innappropriate photos from you, woman!!!" Who would think a cute little umbrella could be so deceiving?

Enter decoy apps. 

Decoy: "to lure or entice a person away from the intended course"

Keep an eye out for these icons on your kids Smartphones and iPods.

Private Photo Vault: “The Best and Most Private Photo and Video App for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch. Over 3,000,000 people trust Private Photo Vault to keep information hidden”. Is your kid one of them? Rated #1 in Decoy Feature

Private Pics FREE: “The perfect app to keep people from accidentally seeing their private pictures."

Don’t Touch My Pics FREE: “Keep your private and incriminating photos away from prying eyes.”

Unless your Calculator App icon looks like this:

It’s a decoy app!!! Even if you open the app, it looks and works just like a calculator but a code will activate the app to take you to another screen revealing hidden pics and videos that are not shown in the regular iPhone album!

Steer clear of these:

Hi Calculator: Private Album.

Private Calculator: File Hider and Secret Photo/Video vault.

Secret Photo & Video Calculator:  Private storage for videos and pics.

Private Photo: “App is private photos and videos hidden behind a calculator”

And those are just a FEW of the calculator decoy apps!

Continued decoy app icons:

Dot Lock My Data Lite: “Security Protection suite for secret photos, videos, notes, and folders”

Private Photo: “The perfect application for anyone who wants to keep people from accidentally seeing their private photos and videos.”

HiFolder: “Hidden Private Photo Albums and Secrets”

HiDisk: “If you have a chance to possess a cool app that can secure your privacy, save time, and enrich your life, will you allow yourself to miss it?” –Photo and video vault

Your secret folder:  “You can create, organize, and protect private folders, albums, photos, and videos. Bonus: Discreet icon!”

Lock Photo and Video Vault: “Great app to hide pics and videos from unwanted guests. Rated #1 in hiding pics!

Best Secret Folder: “Best place to hide passwords and dirty pics”

And notice "Hottest in iTunes Sync Right Now"! And, again, it's FREE.

Do with the info what you may. Maybe you're the parent who wants to give them their privacy and feels this is too "stalkerish". Maybe you're the parent who opted not to let your teen have a iPod or SmartPhone (I applaud you!). 

I happen to be the parent somewhere in between. I let my kids have these devices with stipulations, that, if not met, the phone is mine.

Our kids may resent our rules for now, but remember we aren't here to be #friends #instacool #fun

We are #family. 

A few years down the road, they'll understand that hashtag is the one that's always mattered most and they will appreciate the boundaries and rules given to help them get through their technologically-way-too-advanced-teen years.

In the meantime, it is definitely going to take a village.....

A great source of information on Apps:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Volunteer Schmolunteer

There it was, the email asking for parent volunteers. Guilt ensued. My kid is a senior and the least I could do is sign myself up for something to help out his soccer team. So I did it. I bit the bullet. I was now deemed the writer for our local small town newspaper for articles on our games. I figured I love to write and I will be at the games anyway, so why not. It seemed like the perfect fit until I attended the first game.

I don’t think I realized how much I don’t pay attention to the details of the game, until it was my parental/team volunteer duty to do so. Instead of jotting down notes of who scored left footed with perfect placement in the corner of the goal assisted by John Doe who passed it from the 18 avoiding the slide tackle from the defender, I was thinking about laundry. And 10 million other things. Had I written the article from the thoughts in my mom brain infested by attention deficit disorder it would’ve gone something like this:

Eight and half minutes into the game, I regretted my decision to wear long sleeves in 85 degree heat. Sure, it was my awesome new shirt supporting our team, but it would’ve been more appropriate for cooler weather. YES, we scored! Who passed that? Thirteen minutes into the first half I realized that I desperately need a printed roster of our team. Who are these new kids? I’m going to need a cheat sheet. Maybe I can print one tomorrow. I wonder if the coach has loaded it on That #14 is fast. Sweet, another goal! Nineteen minutes in, it hit me that I forgot to start the dryer. Will those clothes be musty by the time I get home? I’m going to be up half the night doing laundry now. Just great. Twenty eight minutes in, my exhausted brain zoned out as we scored another goal. Not a clue who it was or who passed it, but those hot dogs sure do smell yummy. I miss hot dogs. Damn diet has me craving random bits and pieces of animal crushed into a weiner. Nevermind, I don’ t miss hot dogs. The other team is going crazy. They scored. I better write that down. Sometime later in the first half after planning out my work week, writing a list of school supplies to be purchased, and sweating profusely because of this gosh darn long sleeve shirt, the game stopped. Man down. It appeared one of the kids from the other team got smashed in the nose. Do I add that to the article? Probably not a good idea. But there is so much blood! It kind of brings an excitement level to it, don’t you think? However, I feel for the parents. I am going to be pissed if my kid gets hurt and I have to spend six hours in the ER tonight. I don’t have time for that AND I have this article to write. And laundry to do. And school supplies to buy. Halftime. Whew. I am exhausted. This paying attention thing is hard.

The moral of this story is don’t volunteer. It’s too much pressure. I am certain to spell someone’s name wrong, give the wrong stat or, commit the worst high school sports article faux pas ever, call them a Freshman when they’re really a Sophomore.

So I apologize in advance Mebane Enterprise readers for my super vague articles that are really just a list of stats from the games. You get what you pay for! AND be thankful I didn't sign up to announce the games. Crisis averted for all. Now I’m off to wash a uniform that smells like my kid murdered a family of skunks. I miss hot dogs.

Over and out……..

Friday, July 17, 2015

To Cleanse or Not To Cleanse, That is the Question.....

I started the Isagenix 30 Day Cleanse and Fat Burning Program this week. I did some research before purchasing it, because I wanted something that would kick my 41 year old metabolism in the arse and it needed to be healthy and simple for a mom on the go. Isagenix appeared to fit the bill. I am only 5 days in, but I felt inclined to share my experience.

Let me start by saying, I’ve lost 4.2 pounds in 5 days. So YAY me. Kristen 1 – Fat 0

However, while all diets are challenging, this one takes the cake.

……how I miss &*#king cake. 

I am restricted to one 400-600 calorie meal and 2 IsoLean shakes a day as meal replacements and they are IsoNASTY shakes. I’ve read the reviews of people saying they are delicious and these people must have been on this diet so long their taste buds have disintegrated. I have had the vanilla, the chocolate, and even mixed in ingredients for extra taste and it basically still tastes like thick goo. The directions state: “Enjoy an IsaLean shake”. It’s about as enjoyable as chugging chunky spoiled milk…although it does smell better than spoiled milk and it actually did serve as an appetite suppressant, so there is that. Hence the reason I even made it passed Day 1. 
Kristen 1 - Goo 0

A couple of times a day I am supposed to drink a serving of Ionix Supreme. It has vitamins and minerals and helps with fatigue. I was fatigued like a mofo which is one main reason I started this diet to begin with so I had nowhere to go but up. Yet, I’ve only had one serving of Ionix Supreme in 5 days. Why, you ask? It looks like you are drinking toilet water. Seriously, BAD toilet water. And it is SUPER gross. I can stomach the shake, but this concoction did not make the cut. I figure I’ll pop my regular ole multivitamin and risk being fatigued.
Ionix Supremely Disgusting Stuff 1 – Kristen 0

When I started this diet, the whole point was to cleanse my body. You can opt for cleanse days either 1 day or 2 days a week. I opted to go the aggressive route and go for 2. Lord knows the chips, caffeine, cookies, cheese fries, wine (insert “anything yummy”) have totally destroyed my innards, so cleanse away!! The Cleanse for Life drink isn’t bad if you hold your nose and a chug it fast. The after-taste tastes like baby Aspirin, which in turn takes me back to my childhood when I was skinny and didn’t have to worry about my weight, so that’s a win. When most people think of cleanse, they think of colonic cleanse. This is NOT what this diet does, which most people would give a huge sigh of relief. Who wants to sit at work worrying about THAT happening? Unfortunately, for me, it’s had the adverse effect. I haven’t been in 5 days, even deligently taking their product IsaFlush (the name makes me giggle every time I see the label). Home girl needs to go, but can’t. You had ONE job, IsaFlush formulators! 
IsaFlush 1 – Kristen 0

Lastly, the Isagenix Snacks that come with the 30 Day Cleanse are basically like eating kinda-but-not-really-chocolate chewy Tums. I can’t even. Dry heaving at my desk after choking down a snack is not what I call an actual snack. 
Isagenix Snacks 1 – Kristen 0

So I think it’s safe to assume I won’t be becoming an Isagenix Associate trying to get you all to buy into this product. I do think it can be successful for those who can follow it to a T, pushing through the taste and consistency of their products. And even though the odds are against me, I paid a MINT for this darn thing, so I shall see it through for another pain-staking 25 days myself. However, I will be happily jumping off this bandwagon, hopefully, 10-15lbs lighter and moving on to my old “go to”, Weight Watchers. I do believe if I can do this cleanse successfully for 30 days, I can do pretty much anything. Who knows, maybe even run for President of the United States! In the meantime, I should probably buy stock in Roto Rooter.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Stress in the Workplace: Forgetting to Set the Reminder to Remind You of Your Reminder

Got all that?

I have been doing some research on "stress in the workplace". One of the #1 culprits? 

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. On the contrary, now we're expected to read/respond to emails and texts instantaneously. When there's a technology glitch (software locks up/computer crashes/phone dies), we come to a screeching halt in the middle of what is supposed to be a productive work day. But, honestly, while that's part of our technology induced stress, the majority of it is self-induced. We have become a generation of ADD employees. I am one of them.

Case in point:
4:30pm: Start one task with estimated completion time of 30 minutes, which is perfect because you have exactly 30 minutes left until you have to race home to get your kid to practice.
It takes 4 minutes for the program to open, because, well, your computer sucks. You start out 4 minutes behind schedule but still feel confident you can rock it out before 5pm. Work diligently for 2 whole minutes. You got this!
  • *Email notification*
Respond quickly and get back on task.

2 minutes later......
  • *Incoming text* 
It's from your kid. Oh great. Is he sick again? Did he get in trouble at school? Nope, just low on lunch money. Need to make a deposit for the next day. Say to yourself “It isn’t due until tomorrow, but if I don’t do it now, I’ll totally forget about it.
Hop online to put money in his lunch account. Problem is you can't remember your user name and password. Spend 4 minutes typing in every combination you have for every site you've ever used. No luck. Now waiting on an email to reset it. Go back to original task while waiting.

1 minute later......
  • *Email notification* Password Reset Request.
No internet service. Awesome.
Work on task while waiting. Keep refreshing Google Chrome on your second monitor... over and over and over and over and over and ov-SUCCESS!

Text your kid back: "Done! Remember to do your homework!”

12 seconds later.....
  • *Incoming text* 
You ignore it because you assume it's your kid responding with a "thanks". 
Keep working for 2 1/2 minutes as your subconscious nags you to check your phone.
  • *DING* 
There it goes again, taunting you a second time because it knows you haven't read the text yet..... &%*#! Your mind begins to race with anxiety. Let's face it, your kid isn't going to waste his time texting "thank you!". That only happens when he knows you're bringing home Chick-Fil-A for dinner.
You are convinced it's important... "I'll just check it really quick".
  • Staring back at you is a "k" from your kid. (in response to your homework reminder) God forbid he actually write out the entire response. The "o" in "ok" must be exhausting to type. And you aren't even worthy of a capital letter.

Your annoyance level is now heightened as you jump back into your task.

1 minute later....
  • *Email notification*

Ignore it. Ignore it. Ignore it. What if it’s related to what you’re working on? What if it’s your boss? What if…. What if!?!

Convinced, for sure this timethat it's important, you check email. “Thank you for your payment to Kid #4’s lunch account”.

4:48pm: Just as all notifications quiet down and your focus is clear, it happens.....
  • *Microsoft Windows Pop Up*
Frustration ensues. There's no cancelling. It's a certainty, like death and taxes. The Windows Update will get you everytime. Work like a mofo for 3 minutes, 45 seconds, SAVE, and hold your breath that it doesn't shut down and lose all the hard work you've been slaving over for the last, um, 7 total cumulative minutes.

Wait for the reboot.

Check Facebook Newsfeed on phone. When did she become a redhead? 

Still rebooting.

Your turn in Trivia Crack. You're about to lose to your sister-in-law for the 11th straight time. You swear it's because you get these questions:

And she's over there probably getting these....

Is my Windows Update done yet?

Look at clock. 4:59pm. 

The good news? Your computer has rebooted and all your work is saved. The bad news? It's time to go.

Pick up phone to leave. Add Task to your next day To Do List. 

While walking to the car, answer question wrong in Trivia Crack. 

Get to the parking lot. Can't find car. Wander parking lot unable to find car because of:
  • *Trivia Crack notification* "You lost...(again)"
  • *Text notification* Kid: "What's for dinner?"
  • *Weight Watchers App Reminder* "Don't you dare go by Chick-Fil-A again"

And there you have it. 

LOOK, a squirrel!

Monday, January 12, 2015

You are HERE.
I read a great article today about the revelations we have in our 40’s. The writer mentioned that there’s no such thing as a “grownup”. We never really become one. “Everyone is winging it. Some just do it more confidently.” Truer words were never spoken. More days than not, I ask myself “Am I the only one totally overwhelmed? How does so-in-so do it?” How easy it is to compare ourselves to others when all we see is the surface. And what a relief to know that I am not the only one winging life, some days more confidently than others. The 40's bring a welcomed clarity.

Once you reach your 40’s, your eyesight goes in the crapper, but your “vision” is enhanced. Life is put in perspective, priorities shift, the gods shine down on us in a series of AH HA moments. The “big deals” of our twenties and thirties become so miniscule once we’ve dissected them to what they truly are: life’s lessons; the good, the bad, the ugly. The blame games are over. There’s a mirror we once avoided that we now fully accept in an understanding that the only person we can control is the one staring back at us. Accountability is clear. It’s concise. It’s no longer avoided, but embraced even when it means it may sting a bit. We are much more forgiving of other’s mistakes that hurt us directly, because we acknowledge the hurt we have bestowed on others and the forgiveness we once longed for.

Parenting styles also tend to change after the 4 0 mark. For years, the young, na├»ve mom in me thought parents with multiple kids, like myself, were more lenient with their younger kids because they were just worn the hell out. It wasn’t until my 40’s that I realized the truth behind it is an enhanced vision. The "crimes" that required extreme punishment as parents in our 20’s and 30’s, become less punishable. It isn’t because we’re tired or lazy or stopped caring, but simply because, from age, time, and experience, we have the vision to see, clearly, a perspective in parenting that shifts how we prioritize and handle an offense. And patience, although still not plentiful, seems to peek it’s head a bit more often. 

In your 40s there is a deeper reflection of the past along with a more vivid focus on the long term future. In accordance, there’s a harsh realization that “long term” isn’t as long as it used to be, but an acceptance that you are HERE. 

You've reached the point in life where, with the exception of the gray hair and wrinkles, everything begins to change for the better. But there's one catch; you have to allow it to happen. If you waste energy on holding grudges toward others, if you linger on your own mistakes of the past, your vision remains cluttered. Forgiveness is the key to unlocking clarity.

Granted, life is still far from perfect, but acknowledging a perfection that doesn't exist is step one to embracing your wonderfully amazing imperfect life; a life where vision is suddenly your super power.

And "HERE" is exactly where you want to be.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sh*tty Mom Alert!

First I'd like to start this blog off by apologizing in advance. I have had a shitty morning and my mood is less than stellar. Yet somehow I find it's an appropriate time to write in my blog.....probably a decision I will grow to regret later, but what the hell. Here goes.

Warning: 2 curse words in the first paragraph means Parental Guidance is suggested

I suck at this whole parenting thing. Just. Plain. Suck. I spent my entire morning before work yelling (and I don't mean a slight raise of my voice), YELLING at my 11 year old over something that we have discussed time and time again. He'd dropped the ball, yet again, and I lost it. I lost my patience. I lost my temper. I lost my voice. And as luck would have it, I had to leave for work. I, of course, hugged him before I left, but I was still very angry. And he knew it.

I cried the entire commute going through all the typical mom scenarios:
"Where did I go wrong?"
"Why won't he listen?"
"Why did I let myself get so angry?"

And of course, this happened on a day where I fly out of town for 4 days. I am beside myself with frustration and guilt. While I greatly appreciate my job and the opportunities it provides, it oftentimes gets in the way of me being the Mom I'd really like to be, one where I have time to gather myself and come to a calm resolution before parting ways. Some days I have my shit together. Other days I'm flying by the seat of my pants. My boys throw me daily challenges and, for the most part I'm up for the task, but there are days I explode or surrender, because, well, I have to. I am exhausted, mentally, emotionally and physically. My supermom cape is bundled in the corner of my room with the rest of the household laundry. I just don't have it in me to find my Mom superpower and well, I lose my marbles.

Today was just one of those days. When I got to work, I grabbed some coffee and logged into Facebook as part of my normal morning routine. I think a part of me was looking for some solace from fellow moms. Instead, happy statuses, happy photos, Happy F*cking Monday, bitches!

Nada. You gave me nada.

So I'm here to give you all something of real life substance.

Parenting blows chunks. 

Not always...not even half the time, but once in a while. Occasionally it absolutely sucks you to the depths of your own personal hell making you face the fact that you're not doing that great of a job. But don't lose sight that your kids need you, imperfections and all. These moments of dispair are actually the ones that define us. It's what takes us from shitty mom status, to I-Think-I'm-Doing-OK mom status. And the way in which we handle the big picture often outweighs the momentary lapse of level-headedness. Kids need to understand our limitations. They need to understand consequences to their actions. And most importantly, it's imperative they understand and feel our unconditional love. Before catching my flight I drove 40 minutes home, pulled him out of lunch and gave him the biggest, most loving hug a mom could give. And I apologized for losing my temper. I'm not sorry for reprimanding him for something he should have done, but I am sorry in the manner in which I handled it.

And I feel a bit less shitty.

Alternatively, I can't help but wonder if my hug outside the middle school cafeteria will now weigh heavy on his mind the next time he decides to slack off at school. In my attempt to do something sweet, I may have figured out that instead of taking away XBox, I can threaten future acts of public affection at school to keep him in line. Damn, I'm a genius.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll find my cape upon my return.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cosmo! Simmer Down Now.

Finishing up my most dreaded weekly Walmart grocery shopping trip, I found myself in a gaze into space while waiting for the slowest cashier on the planet. I was daydreaming of being anywhere but there, when out of no where something caught my eye. That something?


And not the Walmart "I wore my best tank top that shows off side boobs and back fat" kind.
Hot boobies.

For a second I thought I'd gazed myself into a Hudson News at the airport staring at a cover of Maxim...or worse. But no. I wasn't at one of "those" places and it wasn't Maxim (or worse). It was Cosmo-freakin-politan. Over the course of the last several years, I have noticed the covers have gotten a bit more revealing, but for whatever reason, this particular one sent me over the edge. It could be the fact that I have 5 impressional boys at home ages 11 and older. This particular issue was displayed front and center at the end of the checkout aisle, perfectly eye level to an 8-9 year old kid standing in line with mom or dad. On top of boobies, the word SEX was displayed prominantly in 3 different places with a bonus article on the ultimate guide to oral. Thanks, Cosmo. (insert sarcasm, not a geniune appreciation)

Obviously, Cosmopolitan is going with the adage "Sex sells"....and, apparently it really does. Cosmo is the most read women's magazine in the world according to with the age demographic aimed for 18-34. At 41, I feel Cosmo is secretly suggesting the likes of me advance on over to Living Better 50 or Readers Digest. Newsflash Cosmo, I too would love some insight on "Sweatproof makeup" and how not to kill my husband "When he makes me crazy" so don't throw me in a retirement facility just yet. But now I'm more likely to Google the answers to those two things, because I'm mad at you for stressing me the hell out in Walmart.

And now I have a few questions for you, the editors of CosmoCoverYourKidsEyespolitan:

1. Are you a parent? Can your kids read?

2. Please explain why it is appropriate for your magazine to be prominently placed perfectly at kid-eye level in a store that sells PlaySkool, Fisher Price, Lego, Thomas the Tank Engine, Elmo, Scooby Doo and Barbie type items?

Now in detail, please answer the following questions for our kids:

3. "What is sex? And how do you give or get the best ever?"

4. "Daddy, what is oral? Is it the gross flouride swishy stuff from the dentist office?"

5. "Does it hurt your head when you blow your mind?"

6. "If there's a chance you could end up in the ER, why would you do sex, Mommy?"

And lastly,

7. "Why can we see that girl's boobies? Isn't she cold?"
Cosmopolitan, these aren't questions we are prepared to answer in the line at Walmart. We just want to get the eff out of there with some patience in tact and now you're totally throwing us a curve ball with these covers loading our children with curiosity. I realize this is the content that sells your magazine, but would it kill ya to spend an additional few cents per issue to cover that shiznit like those "other" magazines? Especially in establishments where toys are sold.

Granted, it's probably way too late for my teenagers who have purposely clicked on accidentally stumbled upon images on the net, but please, for the love of God, don't give us parents any more reason to hate Walmart. Or YOU for that matter. I don't think a little discretion will lower the number of your readers. As a matter of fact, I'd be more apt to buy it......

For the sweatproof makeup articles, of course!