Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No Joke.

My identity has been thieved. Absconded with. Jilted, even.

Two weeks ago, The Husband was purchasing and obligatory 72 doughnuts from Dunkin Donuts (don't ask, they literally made him) for a work meeting when our Visa was declined. This actually didn't raise his eyebrows too high because (1) the clerk said that it was probably her machine and this happens all the time, and (2) it happened to me at the same Dunkin Donuts a few weeks before with three different cards, none of which had any reason to be declined. She reran it; it went through without a hitch. He then made a purchase at Wal-Mart with no problem on the same card. However, paranoid/wise security specialist that he is, he called Visa to make sure there were no problems. He learned of a $1,500 charge to Amazon that we had not made. Because the card is really in my name, I called, disputed the charge, closed the account, and ordered a new card with a new number. In fact, Visa had already flagged the charge, declined it, and had some kind of security alert on the account. Go Visa.

The Husband and I discussed whether we needed to order credit reports, file a fraud alert on our credit reports, or other options. We meant to make a decision on it that weekend. Life got in the way. We hadn't forgotten about it, but we let a week lapse and still hadn't addressed it.

Meanwhile, I noticed I wasn't getting my Gmail anymore. Well, specifically, I was getting it but with increasingly long delays. Finally, last weekend, I stopped receiving email altogether, despite knowing that I had made online orders (with the new Visa number, as well as with another card) from major companies that I knew must have sent confirmation emails.

I poked around in Gmail for a while, assuming there was just some glitch in my account. Lo and behold, I stumbled upon a setting whereby all my incoming email was getting forwarded to another account and deleted from my inbox. An account I'd never seen before. To say I felt violated is an understatement. It felt gross. People always say that it does, and Holy Monkeys, they're not kidding. It felt like someone was in my house. In my life. In fact, they were. They were reading all my email. But wait, it gets worse.

I was finally able to recover some, but not all, of the missed emails in my Trash folder. There I discovered two emails, one from BananaRepublic.com and one from Gap.com telling me they'd received my returns and credited my account. Wait, what? I haven't ordered anything from either website in months, though I have a BR card. The emails listed the ordered items; uh, I'm not and never have been a size 2.

By this time, The Husband and I were strongly suspicious of some sort of keystroke tracking software being planted on my laptop (or possibly his desktop) by some hacker. I had hightailed it to Ouiser's house to use her Internet to stop whatever damage was being done, since I obviously couldn't do a darn thing from my infected computer. Ouiser was a saint and took care of my baby and hers for hours while I was on the phone and online trying to stop the runaway train.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a fraud alert placed on your credit bureau files if they've already caught wind that something's amiss? There's tons of info online regarding what to do if you suspect your identity has been stolen. That's great, really. But you can't get a live person on the phone at any of the three credit bureaus. And guess what? If there's a security alert on your file, you can't get to anything online. It took me forever on the phone to finally get a fraud alert placed with all three bureaus and order a copy of my credit report from all three.

I've also learned that once I receive my credit reports and go through them with a fine-toothed comb, I need to file reports with the FTC and my local police. I spent today on the phone with Visa and BR trying to get the details of dates and charge amounts and shipping information for the fraudulent orders (about $2,500 in all, that I know of, so far). I've closed or requested new numbers for every single credit card I have. We still need to follow up with our banks, but it's complicated because of the move and switching over from one bank to a new one.

Oh, and here's a kicker: I was poking around Amazon.com last night after changing my password, trying to determine if there was anything else I needed to do. You know how they keep a record of addresses you ship to? Funny I should run across a little lady in OH and a gentleman in CA whom I'm darn-tootin' sure I never shipped anything to. I'm sure they're fake and will be dead-ends for the authorities, but I'll certainly turn them over, just in case.

And, as Ouiser quipped, "What does Brown do for you?" A heck of a lot more than I realized, apparently. At least two of the three BananaRepublic.com and Gap.com orderes that were placed were returned because the idiots tried to ship them to our old address in Tucson; UPS knew that the house was vacant and suspected fraudulent activity. So they just returned them to sender. Thank you, Mr. UPS Guy. Thank you, thank you.

The activity started mid-month. We don't know if someone has hacked into The Husband's computer. VERY unlikely. He's got some pretty sophisticated protection in there. I could have gone somewhere I shouldn't have online; although I'm not perfect, I do think I'm more careful than most, so I really don't know how it could have happened. I don't recall being anywhere weird. But it definitely happened through the computer, not snail mail or through our garbage or the movers or some application we filled out, etc. They had all my passwords. They shopped at the sites I shop at. They must have been recording keystrokes.

Anyway. Use sophisticated passwords. Don't visit suspicious sites. Update your antivirus protection. Hug your UPS man. And for the love of capitalism, check your credit card balances frequently so you can nip suspicious behavior in the bud.

I haven't seen the end of this and will be dealing with it for quite some time. Thankfully, we already bought our house and have our mortgage, so I don't need a spotless credit anytime real soon. But that's a silver lining borne of shear luck. Others are not so fortunate. If it can happen to me, with a husband who knows more about protecting against this stuff than anyone I've met, it can certainly happen to you.

I'm off that particular soapbox now. Class is dismissed.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Eye Candy

Toddler Tamer has a similar picture that I've always loved. Happy to capture my budding reader on film, too!

One of the very few times I've managed to slip away during naptime.

Ferberizing teaches you to self-soothe. Nummm...fingers....

Fur baby and...uh...skin baby?

This t-shirt was missorted and we just found it. Already too small for her. And nothing is too small for this child. 'Gaters, if you order for a baby you know, go a size up. I remember Ouiser and Toddler Tamer also having the same problem when we gave them some 'Gate babywear.


Not to be confused with Febreezing.

The days of my bitty girl napping on me, and only on me, after nursing herself to sleep had to come to an end. For the sake of my sanity and of this house ever getting remotely clean enough for us to even think about childproofing it, she really had to learn to go to sleep in her crib, on her own.

The problem is, for those without a little urchin of their own, if you put your kid in they're crib after they've fallen asleep somewhere else, they get to the end of a sleep cycle, wake up just enough to check the status quo, and are shocked and dismayed to discover themselves someplace other than where the sandman stole over them in the first place. The analogy that is commonly used here is imagine that you fall asleep on the couch and wake up to find yourself on the kitchen floor. You may not cry, but you'd be pretty shook up. We all (babies and adults) wake up just enough between sleep cycles to notice such a major change. And the baby gets pissed. And tells you.

And my particular baby didn't even get that far. She'd usually wake up just as I was trying to move her. Or after five minutes, I think when she noticed the extra body heat was gone. So anyway, it was time. I was sick of spending six hours a day on the couch with her sleeping on me.

So I read that book by West that Ouiser lent me. I tell you, baby S is a wonder baby who has the adaptation skills to bring a tear to Darwin's eye. It didn't really work for us. But I think it may have toughened me up a smidgen regarding the crying. The Husband came back with Dr. Ferber's book last night, at my request.

I've been saying since before the Liliputian was even born that I wanted to avoid "Ferberizing" my baby for as long as possible. I had been told by people, books, and websites that it involved leaving your child to cry, alone in her crib, for increasing lengths of time between your checks on her. I'd heard of people leaving their kids to cry for hours this way, and that it was so heartbreaking for the parents that it often didn't work. I didn't think I had the heart for it. Turns out I'm a heartless ogre of a mother after all.

Well, it actually turns out that Ferber recommends only letting your child cry for a length of time you can stomach. So if you can only handle 10 minutes max, that's fine. You need not ever let your child cry for 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes straight without a check, as I had heard. So, you can start out going in to check on your baby after only 1 minute of crying, if you want. Then you increase to 3 minutes before the second check, then 5, then 7, then 10, and stay at 10 if that's what works for you. Much more humane and compassionate than I was expecting. I was near to a panic attack with all the crying she was doing yesterday. I swear my heart felt like it was going to explode. I was literally sitting on the couch panting. So now I know 15 minutes is too long for me. Or at least it was yesterday. I'm sure I'll get better at this, too.

Today's she's napping spectacularly, for it being only the second day. Though that could have more to do with the fact that she had her vaccines this morning. We finally had an insurance number to go to the pediatrician with. And the other good news? She's between the 25th and 50th percentiles for both height and weight! Yay! We may have kicked that weight gain problem for good, finally! Hers anyway. I make no guarantees about any weight problems of my own.

And I finally got the card reader hooked up, but Blogger's not letting me upload the photos for some reason. I'll try again asap.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Check out the who's who signed onto this letter to the Daily Telegraph lamenting the death of childhhod and urging the government to take action.

Remember this video, shared with me by the Husband's auntie, LK-H? For any, like Ouiser, who were freaked by the news that even breastmilk is apparently dangerous, here's some mildly reassuring news. And, LK-H, it mentions you MOMS friends, too!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

What's Your Potential?

Dreaming of installing solar panels one day? Ever considered a wind turbine in your backyard? Before you shell out the big bucks in the name of renewable energy, find out how much it would really cost, or save, you.

Most green home renovations are said to pay for themselves in about five years in energy saved. The Husband and I were just recently discussing looking into solar panels one day. Now I'm not so sure. According to Choose Renewables, conventional energy is much cheaper where we live. It would take 58 years to recoup the cost of solar panel installation and 130 years for wind. Hmph.

So I checked the address we just moved from in the Old Pueblo: better. 21 years for solar, 103 wind.

Finally, my parents' house, where I grew up, northern NY: excellent. Dad, a wind turbine would pay for itself in only five years! And solar panels in ten. Not too shabby.

I want more info, though. What happens if you install both? What about partial usage as opposed to going off the grid entirely? Doesn't the size of your house matter? Are they taking into account the insane cost of heating in NY and AC in AZ?

What's your renewable energy potential?

(Also fun: calculate your impact and receive recommendations on how to reduce.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Today's Green Link

This is simultaneously depressing and enlightening. I'm actually excited to start trying to do this right, now that I know the rules. I was definitely a when-in-doubt-recycle gal before this.

You, Me, and the Bottle Makes Three

I woke up this morning to the realization that all three of my pants were in the laundry. Not wanting, particularly, to wear sweatpants to Lily's first appointment with her new pediatrician, I decided it was time for another try with the pre-pregnancy clothes. Hallelujah, all my jeans fit! There are still some khakis that don't, but at least I have some more choices again. Good ol' breastfeeding, I have you to thank. You may give me neverending stress that the supply is too low, you may leave me trapped under a four-month old on the couch for hours at a time, and you may be disfiguring some parts of my body, but you allow me to continue to eat like a linebacker while still losing weight. Miraculous.

Which is not to suggest that I have my old body back. There is still an alarming lack of muscle in the abdominal region. Nothing like feeling that there's nothing between your fat and organs like resting your hand on your abdomen post-delivery to make you realize that they really ain't kidding when they say pregnancy literally tears apart your abs. Tears. Apart. But I made it to the gym for the first time two days ago, so hopefully some time there over the coming months will help the profile and the back problems. It was a challenge, though, to drop off the Liliputian in the germ factory they call a day care with all the five-year-old petry dishes running around. I had one eye on the day care door as I kept the other eye on the elliptical machine (level 1 isn't what it used to be). But I'm sure that's just an artifact of leaving her with a stranger for the very first time ever. I picked her up after 40 minutes and it seemed to be just in time as she was in the early stages of fuss. Next time I'll bring a bottle.

We didn't get to meet the aforementioned new pediatrician after all. Although the Husband's new insurance kicked in on the first, we don't have cards or a number yet, making the insurance virtually useless. So I had to reschedule to avoid paying the $900 in immunizations she would have otherwise gotten today. Hopefully it will all be straightened out by next week, when we're rescheduled to reappear.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Tool Time

The Liliputian has slept through the night a couple nights in a row now. By George, I think we've got it. Although, maybe I don't have it yet. I accidentally let her fall asleep on me last night at about 5:40 for 20 minutes or so. She ate a good meal first, but I swear she wouldn't wake up for singing, burping, jiggling, cold hands, nothing. Until the Husband came upstairs and suggested I just put her down on the bed next to me. Oh...yeah. Oops. I think I just spend so much of my day with her sleeping on me, thinking I can't put her down or she'll wake up, that I forgot to use that quirk to my advantage when I could have. Oh well, she just stayed up about 30 minutes later last night than usual, so no disaster.

Today we've got the contractor in here doing some demo and construction. There's a room in the back of our house that leads out to the deck that the previous owners used as a family room. We're convering it to a pantry/utility room. The current door is into the hall. We're closing that off and adding a door through the kitchen. The kitchen's not tiny, but it's small. Perfectly functional for me, but we wanted a place for our chest freezer. We don't have a coat closet. We need a place for Chewy's crate. And I can't stand having the washer and dryer in the basement, so we're moving those up to this room, too (maybe the basement would be find without a baby, but lugging her and baskets of laundry up and down those stairs, in addition to the stairs to the top floor? No way, Jose.). So today they're just moving the door. The Husband is thinking about trying to put the tile down himself--it will be the same tile we have in the kitchen, extended into this utility room. He's never done it before, but he works with a few guys who have a lot of experience with it and they say it's easy as long as you read up on how to do it. And you save a ton of money.

Anyway, the Liliputian is sleeping upstairs in her crib right now, as they tear giant holes in my wall. She fell asleep in the Moby, while I was puttering around trying to make space for my coffee maker among the workmen. I was just settling down to nurse her and let her nap on me at about 8:00 because I realized she'd been up for over two hours...except that she hadn't, I realized, when I looked down and saw that she was already asleep. I walked upstairs, gingerly unwrapped my little Papoose from the Moby (a tricky thing, if you've ever seen one of those Mobys [Mobies?]. They're about 27 ft long. Well...maybe not quite that long.), and put her in her crib. Half an hour and enough noise to wake the dead later, she's still asleep. Amazing. I told the Husband yesterday that, although I had planned to wait until next week to start the sleep training for naps, I felt like she was ready now. But I thought we'd have to get blinds or something up on her windows first. Apparently not.

Window treatments are such a nightmare. There was hardware up on her windows for blinds, but we took it down because there were no blinds. Then the Husband found the blinds in the basement, but now we don't know if we still have the hardware somewhere or threw it away because we didn't think there was a reason to save it. Of course, you can't find anything because the house looks like a moving van threw up in it. So all she has on her windows right now are some flimsy white curtains that don't even cover the four side by side windows in her little dormer. And the Husband needs serious darkness in order to sleep, so I have to either buy or make some curtains with blackout lining for our bedroom. It kills me to buy them because they're so expensive and so easy, in theory, to make. But making curtains requires unpacking enough stuff from my sewing room to find everything I need and finding a place to set it all up...eventually we're going to finish the basement and I'll have a sewing room down there, but in the meantime we'd hoped to just leave it all in boxes. So, I don't know what we'll do there. Any thoughts?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Sleep Tight

Last night the Papoose woke up one time. I nursed her, put her back down awake, and she went to sleep without a peep.

Tonight, we went through our bedtime routine, I put her down awake. This was my first time doing the actual putting to bed since we've started the sleep training, mainly because the Husband can take the crying better than I can. She was wide awake and just looked at me. After a couple minutes I realized I could just leave. We were only supposed to sit by her crib if she needed us. I left. She hasn't needed us. Hasn't made a peep in an hour, so I obviously assume she's asleep. Either that or having a very, very quiet party in her crib.

I'm feeling so lucky about how well this has gone. That first night was tough, but not as tough as I'd prepped myself for. Obviously, she was ready for this.

I've figured out why this whole sleep training thing is so hard on parents, I think. The first few months you spend pretty much just trying to keep your baby alive. All efforts are on feeding, keeping her warm enough, preventing diaper rash, etc. Survival. Oh, and keeping yourself alive by trying to remember to eat and sleep occasionally. This sleep training business is, I think, the first real parenting I've done yet. I'm having to put her through something she doesn't like for her own good, despite her pain. That's parenting. And yeah, of course I've been reading to her and talking to her and making sure she gets new experiences, etc. And that's parenting in a way because it does take a modicum of effort. But it's also kind of fun. Sleep training isn't fun for anyone. And Ouiser and Toddler Tamer both, wisely, keep reminding me that this seems so hard until you realize that everyone goes through this eventually and the kid turns out fine, no permanent damage and whatnot. But like the first night they have to put themselves to sleep and hate it, but then realize they actually can do it and survive, the first night I had to be a real parent kind of sucked, and I hated it, but I realize I actually can do it. And we all survived.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Happiest Mama on the Block

One of the best things about our new town is that it has several antique shops. I've been to my share of antique shops in the past, in a variety of areas of the country, and I never understood why people always talked about what fun it was to go "antiquing." Everything is always ungodly expensive and it's just depressing looking at all the beautiful things you can't have.

Now I understand! This is a town where antiquing is actually affordable! There are really expensive things, but also really reasonably priced things. A wide variety of junk and true treasure. I get it now. It's fun. We've made two small purchases already that I'll try to remember to share in the future, when I can upload pictures again: a small chest for $28 and a medicine cabinet with mirror for $40. I'm pretty excited about both. They're very, very rustic, but they fit in well with our older home.

In an update on the sleeping chronicles, the Papoose slept through the night last night. A gift from the heavens. Tonight she cried for about 20 minutes. We'll see if she wakes up. Apart from these mild sleep issues, she is so amazing. I wish babies could be born at three or four months of age. I know some women really find those first few months to be their favorite, but I am so not one of them. I feel like we've finally hit the golden age of babyhood. She is just such a happy baby and so much fun. I wish you could all meet her now! I need to figure out if I can post video. To the nonparents (or non-recent parents), there's a great book out there that Toddler Tamer was kind enough to lend me called The Happiest Baby on the Block. It's written by Dr. Karp and he teaches the five S's for getting your baby to sleep: swaddling, swinging, "shhhhing," sucking, and side-lying. But his theories are based on the idea of what he calls the fourth trimester, suggesting that babies really need another three months to mature before they can really deal with the world. I started seeing major changes for the better in our Papoose after two months, but she didn't get really fun until about three months. And I'm so excited everyday to see what she'll do next! Okay, enough gushing, sorry. I'll be complaining again in my next post, I'm sure.

To bed with me.