How to be the (Mom)Boss of Your Internet Security 

 

slidelock
photo credit: Elissa Powers

My older brother has considered himself a tech guy since he was 12 years old. He was in charge of managing our home’s electronics for as long as I could remember. I have always trusted his advice regarding computers and I’m  not about to stop now. Recently, he wrote an excellent blog that caught my attention, and finally motivated me to change my crappy passwords and get serious about internet security. You can start by reading that here.

Ok, I’m assuming you’re done now. If you didn’t read it, and you skipped ahead, go  back now and read it.

So, do your passwords suck too?  Don’t worry, I’m here to help.

I’ve never been very good at locking my doors at night, I have left my keys and wallet in my car for weeks at a time, and (although I’m ashamed to admit it) I was using the same password for my Gmail, Facebook, Banking, and all other forms of online payment. It would take SECONDS to break in to all of my accounts and take me for every penny I have. 5 years ago, I would have told the hackers to have at it. At that time, stealing my identity probably would have been a good thing for my credit! HA! Today, we definitely have a different perspective. Our online accounts contain tons of private information about ourselves and our kids. So, I set out to lock it up!

The first thing I did was download and app called LastPass from the Google Play Store. I used the advice found in my brother’s blog to come up with a lengthy but memorable master password. Mine looked something like this Pup23_#newdogbed_eggplantemoji. LastPass allows you to use the app on 1 device for free. Any additional devices require a premium membership which is $12 a year.

Once you create your account you can begin securing your online accounts.The app is fairly easy to use. You enter the web address and your username, then click a button to generate the password so that you can copy and paste it on the website. You can set any of the parameters given by the website (only 12 characters, no numbers or symbols, etc) I set mine to 20 random characters, symbols, and numbers.  My main concerns were Facebook, Gmail, and my online banking. While I did this, I made a few notes:

Facebook and Gmail have a similar process. I logged in to my account, followed a series of steps and after I verified my identity, I was able to change my password. I used my LastPass account to generate a new password, then gave the app permission to log me in to these sites without constantly having to remember. Within minutes of making these changes I got text alerts and email alerts from Google and Facebook informing me of the changes to my account.

The alarm came when I changed my banking password. Red flags were as follows:

  1. There was no verification process before changing my password
  2. There was a 14 character limit on the password
  3. No text or email alert regarding the change

What? How? Why? I’m pretty concerned that my bank, the main reason why I’m securing my other accounts, has such crappy security. I can only do so much!

The process of changing all my accounts hasn’t been as hard as I expected. I’ve been dragging my feet on this for at least a year! There is no reason for it! All I have done is secure my major guys, and then change my passwords as I use these accounts day to day. I started this on Tuesday and have secured the three mentioned before, my 2 car financing companies, Hulu, Nationwide,  and Amazon. I want to assume that anywhere I’ve made payments is an immediate task.  The rest can wait.  

I’m going to post more next week about securing your home network and what I do to keep my kids safe online. 

.

 

Never Have I Ever…

You know what really grinds my gears? People who use the phrase,  “I would never… with my child.” Really? Never? Granted, I’ve been that person before too. 

I don’t pretend to know everything about parenting, but I feel like I’ve been exposed to a variety of children from various backgrounds. I have seen that, while one parenting style might work for one child- it may take something totally different for another.  This may change from day to day or between children raised in the exact same environment. 

A little time out.
You might be saying, “How dare you?” Or “Well, I would never…” and maybe you won’t ever.  If that is the case,  then good for you.  You win the parenting contest. No,  really though.  

Here‘s a link to an article I liked.

My timeouts for baby girl, who has some serious separation anxiety  usually occur within the same room. In the picture above, I was sitting on the couch while she sat across the room quietly for 3 minutes.  After her time out we always talk about what happened and how we can keep it from happening again.  

Now,  because my kids were in foster care I definitely take their special needs in to consideration.  They often feel insecure and unsure of their place in the family. For that reason I’m hyper vigilant that I’m minding the Circle of Security

Click the picture to be taken to their website.

While I recognize that every behavior is a direct result of a desire to have a need met, I also strongly agree with: Whenever necessary: take charge. So, when she misbehaves, I ask myself these questions: 

  1. Has she been reminded of the rule today?
  2. What has she experienced in the recent past that may cause her to act out?
  3. Is this a behavior that is damaging property, hurting others, or socially unacceptable?
As my kids would say, “Do the crime, do the time… DTC, DTT”

I also make sure that the time fits the crime.  No stockade. No excessively long time outs.  No grounding of my 4 year old.  

My older 2. Here are some special concessions that I make for them:

  1. They weren’t parented for a larger portion of their life.
  2. Their greif and loss may be felt more strongly and may manifest in a number of different ways.
  3. Building trust will be more difficult.

    Becuase of this,  sometimes I find myself excusing their behavior until it becomes extreme. HORRIBLE IDEA.  I also find myself explaining why I feel a correction is just and fair…sometimes to the perpetrator and sometimes to the sibling who feels I’m too lenient. 

    I guess I’m trying to say that I have researched and taken hours of classed. I’ve tried everything from Google and Pinterest. I’ve used my kids as my guinea pigs. We’ve found what works for us.  Now,  I’m just gonna be over here raising well mannered and properly adjusted children and you do the same.  If you choose to redirect and do time ins and follow your angel around whispering little wisdoms into their tiny precious ears- go for it. 

    Just realize this- I love my children fiercely. I will defend them to the end of the earth. I sacrifice everything for them.  My tone of voice and use of time out doesn’t change that. I promise you this: you will rarely see my children being disrespectful, disorderly, or dishonesty.  They may “bend to my will” but my will is for them to be kind, honest,  and well mannered.  I think I’m doing a damn good job at that.  

    Thoughts on my last night with Loyale, Layden, and Lyric

    Wow. 872 days have flown past me like a gust of wind. I woke up on April 26, 2014 to a phone call.  “Will you take a placement of a 20 month old baby girl,  8 year old boy, and 13 year old girl?” 

    Spoiler Alert: I said, “Yes.”

    I knew we were on the top of the call list that weekend. I had hounded every placement specialist with a 75 mile radius making them aware of our open home. I fell asleep with my phone in my hand. I knew I’d accept any call that we got. Little did I know, I had actually won the metaphorical foster care lottery 

    Day 1. 

    As I expand the blog I’ll talk about the first time Hudson said he loved us,  Harper forgetting her adoptive name,  and how Boston wanted to stay forever 3 weeks in to the journey. Today, however, I want to reflect inward.  How did I become the mom you know today. 

    Summer 2014
    2 years ago when Aspen was still a hope and prayer I was plopped down into the middle of motherhood. Suddenly I had this gigantic range from teen to toddler and no idea how to be exactly what they need. You’d like to hope that your presence and involvement in their lives would be welcome after years of neglect,  but it is actually quite the opposite. Imagine moving in a mother figure to your home now. Kids who have raised themselves do not necessarily want to be parented.

    I suppose if you give 3 kids who don’t know how to just be kids to a mommy who doesn’t know how to “mommy” then you’ve got yourself a problem. I will be very blunt: I didn’t know how to open my heart to my foster children before I became a biological mom.

    I had no context to the depth of s mother’s love. I tried. I worked at it. Often,   I managed my kids as a teacher. I knew and loved them but I didn’t even know what I was missing. 

    The day my heart opened up bigger than I knew possible. 

    4 days before Aspen  was born, we had the official word that the kids were now in full guardianship of the state and would be ready for adoption this year.  Sometime between then and the days following my hospital stay something changed.  

    Now, when I am feeding, changing,  and playing with the baby- I’m picturing the kids that small.  I imagine swaddling each of them,  kidding their little cheeks, snuggling them in close for a nap… Visualizing these things has strengthened my bond with them so unexpectedly.

    I adore my babies. I feel insanely blessed. I am honored to be trusted with these little lives. Tomorrow we will head to the courthouse early. We will be dressed and pressed, and our kids will become OUR KIDS! They will officially have new names that signify the start of our new lives as a full fledged family.  

    Here We Grow Again

    That’s right. As you may have guessed by the title of this blog- our family is growing by 2 feet! Although we certainly didn’t expect this newest addition, we are excited to welcome Audrey in to our family. We are now proud parents of 5.

     This picture was taken in 2014 when we first met her. She was a friend of our nearly adopted daughter Boston who also entered foster care in the Spring of that year. Unfortunately, her journey has not been as smooth as our childrens’. Her resilient spirit shines though her though,  and her positive attitude is extremely refreshing. 

    Earlier this summer I got a message on Facebook. “This is Audrey. Can you call me? It is pretty important.” Obviously, I called right away. I could hear her nerves on the line as she explained that she may, through no fault of her own, be needing to leave her current foster home.  Her voice was shaking and I definitely felt the vulnerability of a child uncertain of her future as she spoke. I told her that we’d think about it,  but that whatever the outcome we were always there.  

    I called Jerry and asked him to start thinking and praying. I told my mom and she did the same. My heart was heavy as I imagined myself as this 15 year old girl reaching out for a family. We agreed that we would continue to pray, and invited her to Splash Country. 

    Me vs 6 kids at a theme park. 

    This is the crew minus baby Aspen  and with the addition of my neice and nephew.

    That weekend went great. So,  we invited her for another, and another, and ANOTHER. The whole time I’m just praying and basically asking God to give me a hard “No.” Okay. I would have taken a soft “No.” You got me. I would have taken a, “Meh.” That is not what I got. I got a message at church about stretching the boundaries of your ministry, and more importantly, I got a big dose of peace from the Holy Spirit. 

    The few folks that I’ve told have met me with stunned silence. I get it. 5 kids is a lot. 4 kids who have endured trauma… I know. 2 teenage girls… I KNOW! I hear you but right now what I need is less judgement and more prayer. Let’s not forget that the will of God won’t lead you where the grace of God can’t keep you. 

    I appreciate your love and support. 

    Mandy