The iPhone Police: Quinquagenarian v. Teenage Son

How many government workers does it take to figure out how to restrict a teenager’s access on their iPhone?

I know, a new version of an old joke. I’m so scared to become a parent of a teenager. Only 6 more years. Six more years until I will live in even more of a hyper state of hyper-vigilance. This is how the conversation went this morning between me and my co-worker about policing teen iPhones.

TP (Teen Parent, or Toilet Paper, which is what he really is right now to his seriously tech advantaged son): “I need to delete Instagram and Snapchat from my son’s phone. How do I do that?”

Me: “Hold the home button until the icons shake. There will be little X’s in the corner of each one? Press the X.” (Because at 5 years younger, I have a serious leg up on his tech skills and I know the terminology, like “icons” and “shake”).

TP: “The shortcuts are gone. But they are in his apps. Damn it. I told him to disable his password in the car today and he took his phone and he only had it for like 10 seconds and he was like this.” TP re-enacts son speed typing across the phone and hitting “send” 40 times in under 5 seconds.

Me: “Did you Google it? Google it. That’s what I always do. I don’t know what I did before Google.”

TP: “Yes, I googled it, I can’t find anything.”

Huge sigh from me. These seniors need so much help with their phones. “Ok. Give me a minute, I’ll go look it up.”

I find the information I need back in my office and call him at his desk.

Me: “Come down here. I have an answer for you.”

TP makes his way down to my office after a 60-second debate about why I just can’t go back to his office (we are literally 10 steps away from each other).

I read the instructions off my monitor about how to delete apps from his settings on the phone. He starts reading off apps as he begins deleting the obvious culprits: Instagram and SnapChat.

TP: “What’s Yellow?”

I quickly do a search on Google.

Me: “Looks like it’s the new Tinder for teens.” Scanning and reading aloud headlines about police and parent concern over Yellow, which has taken over every American teenager’s phone. My coworker breaks into a sweat and utters some words that I don’t like to print in my blog.

TP: “What’s Find My Friends?”

Me: “Oh, it’s just a standard iPhone app I think. I don’t use it. Whenever I turn it on, the only person I can find is XXXXX.” Insert name of another coworker who is seriously the only friend I can ever find with the app.

TP: “Ok. So those are all gone. I can give him access to Safari, right? I mean, that’s ok.”

I am starting to get lightheaded with all my tech expertise. What can I mooch from this guy? He really needs my help.

Me: “Wellllll……no. It’s not ok. I mean, all he has to do is go to the homepage of all of those sites and he can log in to them through Safari.”

TP: “I need to restrict access to those sites?” He is tentative, concerned, wide-eyed. Maybe he can buy me coffees for a week in exchange for helping him create a firewall between his son and the outside world. Did I use firewall correctly in that sentence, I wonder as I write this.

Me: “Yes. You will need to do that.” More Googling and giving him the URLs so he can block the sites from his son.

About ten minutes later, TP finally leaves my office, feeling a smug satisfaction, that he, along with the help of his much younger, more attractive and tech savvy coworker, has outfoxed his son this round. To be continued……..

Non-stop!

LOL! After writing about how much I love side gigs, the only downside is that we are even more non-stop than we were in the past. Dog sitting requests are pouring in and each visitor we host captures our hearts. This week, our beloved German Shorthaired Pointer went home. She ended up staying a week longer because her owner was flying standby from Europe. Each day I got a text saying “maybe tomorrow?” And I was always happy to hear that she was delayed yet another day. 

My little old lady, La Vieille Dame, had so many endearing quirks. She would bark at her food every time she ate. I had to remind her to eat it and not talk to it so much. She would dig into my carpet every night and turn a thousand circles before settling down to sleep. She didn’t like my yard, but preferred to go for walks and watch the kids play at the nearby park. Through this business I also find more and more that dogs and owners resemble each other. Her owner, though I wouldn’t consider her old as she is probably only 15 years older than me, is a graceful and beautiful woman. When I interact with her in person, I feel like I am seeing her through a filter, she literally glows and flows softly around the environment. Her dog, though not as graceful, is equally captivating with her personality. 

We have received four sitting requests for future dates this week alone and visited with three of the dogs over the past week to see if we were all a good fit. Two of the four have booked so far and we will know at the end of this week about the other two. The kids are used to frequent “meet and greets” with prospective clients. I am thankful for our busy-ness and love meeting so many new people and the canine members of their families.

Our skincare work also keeps momma very busy, up late at night dreaming up social media posts (besides using the product, this is probably one of my favorite activities), and chatting with partners in crime and potential clients. I am grateful that I love the masks, toners, moisturizers, eye creams, etc. so much that I have no trouble talking to people about the products and business itself when people ask. Sharing with people and seeing them get excited about how the products have made them feel has been good for my soul. 

With all the extra activities, day job and school, we still somehow manage to get lunches made, baths taken (although I’m encouraging more showers as they are quicker), dinners made, stories read, days shared, cuddles had, dishes done, laundry washed, house straightened, groceries bought, and dogs walked and cared for when they are visiting. ❤️💯

Non-stop, content and thankful.

Microblog Monday: 5 Life Changing Reasons!

One of the things that’s freaking me out right now is how much I LOVE having side businesses. I’m hoping one day that I can just become a master of side businesses and a full-time employee of none. Now if I can just get the American healthcare system to play nice with me.

Five life-changing perks for me:

1. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE FEEDS MY SPIRIT!!

Who doesn’t love dogs? There are probably a few people, but through Rover, I get to experience a wide variety of dog personalities which has busted dog breed stereotypes for me. I also get to meet new people, use my business to help my kids learn about respecting animals and being responsible, and get to cuddle with the cuddlers (as I learned from Smoke, not every dog likes to be cuddled).

2. GREAT SKIN AND NEW FRIENDS!!!

I’ve felt like dead woman walking since I had my kids. With R+F, my skin has completely transformed from when I started using it 3 months ago. I love sharing this experience with people. I also have had the unexpected pleasure of reconnecting with friends and acquaintances I have not spoken to in ages and the support and positivity of the women I’ve met in this business is second to none.

3. CONFIDENCE BOOST!

With both of my side gigs, I’ve started to step out of my shell and consequently have gained more confidence and stressed less about what people are thinking of me.

4. 9-5 KILLS MY SOUL!!

I’ve realized how much I appreciate the diversity and energy of having more than one stream of income. I’ve known I’m not a typical 9-5 girl my entire life (ask my co-workers how well I stick to schedules – ugh). Mixing up my day job with other types of work has really boosted my mood – despite some occasional exhaustion from staying up too late because I can’t stop working once the kids are in bed.

5. MY KIDS ARE FEELING IT!!!

Largely because I’m a more positive human being. My daughter has quickly picked up on my entrepreneurial spirit and loves creating things to sell to people. It’s hard to sell things on the curb in my neighborhood, so she’s finishing up some ladybug garden rocks that she wants me to post soon. My son loves helping me create videos for my business. Ultimately, I want them to learn that anything worth doing is worth doing well and that their solo parent (with the help of God, family and good friends!) can carry the day to provide a home that they can thrive in.

 

Weekend Recap: Posh, Pig Roasts, Paris, Pups and Police

This weekend was a bit surreal in terms of experiences.

So, Thursday evening I got a frantic message from a woman saying her mother is leaving for Paris on Friday morning and could I watch her dog for the next 13 days. Upon learning that the dog is a breed I grew up with (German Shorthaired Pointer) and is 13 years old, I agreed, sight unseen, to pick up this dog Friday morning from a loft in Union Station, a very swanky area in downtown Denver. The mother, who I discovered travels frequently to Paris, is a high end interior designer. Her pup, who I have nicknamed "La Vieille Dame," is a lovely and sweet old lady who barks at her dog food and tries to dig holes in my carpet with her front paws to create a comfortable spot for sleeping.

Saturday morning, I woke up to the police knocking at my door to ask me about the "squatters" who have taken over the old grow house next door. Sigh. Dorothy, we're not in Union Station anymore. The officer and my neighbor reported that people have taken over the house, they come to party at night, and did I ever hear them?

The police were going to call in a company to board the house up and try to track down the owner. Mulling over the idea of living next to a boarded up house, I supposed the house couldn't possibly look any worse than it already did with a queen-sized mattress leaning against the garage door and miles of PVC pipe piled up in the driveway next to the overgrown weed fest of a yard. Weed in the actual sense of the word.

Saturday evening we headed over to the wedding reception of one of my daughter's former daycare teachers. A family friend was hosting it at their home. This neighborhood was definitely where some of Colorado's 1% live. My kids jumped out of my car and raced across the exotic xeriscaping of the expansive front yard, stopping only long enough to leave fingerprints all over some gorgeous vehicles in a 4-car garage before running into the house and stopping just short of a well- appointed dessert bar. Yes, don't mind them, they will have one of each. Will you please let the bride know that her guests from south Thornton have arrived?

Later Saturday evening, we drove an hour south to beautiful rolling hills alongside the mountains to a friend and co-worker's home and land for a pig roast. It was like going to Disneyland Colorado style. Beautiful acreage with pigs, cows, woods, tire swings, playgrounds. It was A River Runs Through It minus Brad Pitt. The kids and I hung around the buffet table poking at the fully-intact face of the pig who had been roasted earlier in the evening. Afterwards, we danced and played and listened as some police officers tried their hand at karaoke (stick to fighting crime, guys).

Our weekend wrapped up with church and lunch with grandma and grandpa. Through it all, the kids were superstars. I'm not sure what kool-aid they started the weekend with, but they were model children all weekend. I felt so grateful and blessed to have such diverse friendships and the opportunity to expose my kids to different experiences.

5 Things I Love About Summer!

The title of this blog is meant to come across as positive, exciting and bursting with infectious happy energy! Here is what I’m really thinking about summer right now: I’m tired of living sans air conditioning. The average temperature in my home runs about 85 degrees in the early evening. I swore up and down that this would be the summer of the cooling system installation extravaganza. After obtaining a few estimates that I can’t really afford without taking a loan and discovering that many HVAC companies are booked out at least a few weeks, I’ve decided that this might be the summer where I leisurely explored the idea of installing a cooling system and decided to put it off another year.

Why not? I’ve met some really interesting HVAC guys and a whiney electrician, increased my knowledge of heating and cooling systems exponentially, spent quite a bit of time getting to know my fuse box, and received plenty of bad news about the issues that an old home presents when installing anything major that requires electricity. I can give you the rundown about the options that are available nowadays when it comes to cooling your home and tell you why you should never use a present day GFI testing thingy to check ungrounded GFI outlets in an old home.

Move on, you say. Let’s talk about why summer is so great. Here are the 5 things I love about this summer.

  1. I get to spend one whole day a week hanging out with my children! Through this experience I’ve learned that being an SAHM is probably not the ideal way to go for me, but I wouldn’t trade our Tuesdays for anything. Even when they involve hours and hours of bickering, hearing the word “Momma” a mind-numbing amount of times, and turning down hundreds of requests per day regarding TV, iPad, and iPhone usage.
  2. Above-mentioned children have learned to swim! When we do go to the pool, we don’t have to spend a lot of time in the wading pool where the water is suspiciously warm all the time and toddlers in swim diapers splash and squeal all around you.
  3. Crime seems to have slowed down this summer in our neighborhood! While data shows our area as the most popular place in town for our police force to hang out, our immediate surroundings have remained relatively quiet (knock on wood). 
  4. It is too hot to use the oven in my house which limits our diet to only items that can be eaten straight out of the fridge and prepared on the stove top or in the toaster! Add in picky eaters and the only things I really need to keep readily available are bread, peanut butter, jelly, and cheese and turkey slices. 
  5. Homemade cold brew coffee. With vanilla almond creamer. 

As you can see, the upcoming school year and fall will likely be greeted with some long faces and heavy hearts. Despite the high temps in the house, we’ve managed to have one of the better summers in recent history.

The Marijuana Sitter

For the past few years, I’ve had the honor (?) of living next door to a trailblazer in the now legalized marijuana grow industry. While HIS grow has never been legal, because he exceeds by at least 20 times the number of plants he can legally grow and operates across the street from a daycare, we have had an uneventful and symbiotic relationship during that time. For the past two years, because he and his wife grew their family a bit, he has been renting out the house. This most recent set of tenants has been by far the most interesting, and in particular, a man I will call Louis, who is by trade, a Marijuana Sitter. This is my term based on the description of his job duties, he refers to himself as a “Roadie.”

My acquaintanceship with Louis began about a week before he officially moved out of the house next door. For about two weeks, I had noticed a new truck in the driveway, which was there consistently. There were always many cars parked in and around the house, but this truck kept returning. Sitting at the front of the truck at the top of the driveway, there was often a tall, thin man with thick, wavy, longish black hair and an unkempt beard, who smoked endlessly. Sometimes, I would sit at the bistro table in front of my house while he smoked in the driveway not more than 20 feet away, but we wouldn’t exchange anything other than a head nod. Had the backyard of the house next door not been continuing to fill with smelly trash wrapped in black plastic bags, we might not have ever spoken.

When the heat climbed to the mid-90s, the backyard started to smell, and the landfill next door became a problem for me. On my way to work one morning, I pulled over and walked up to Louis and introduced myself. We spoke briefly about the trash in the backyard and he begged me to call the city about it. He was eager to move the other tenant, a woman who was in the prostitution business with underaged children who smoked weed, out of the house as soon as possible. And he wouldn’t be able to call the police himself because he didn’t want to draw attention to himself (translated: outstanding warrants).

As Louis’ story about the happenings around the house over the past several weeks unfolded, I was quite surprised that it was only 9 months worth of trash stashed in the backyard that had caught my attention. Most fascinating was probably Louis’ job though. He is a marijuana sitter for a living. He travels around to grows and stays to help care for the plants through certain phases of growth. He gets paid quite a bit too. He also makes deliveries to parties and festivals. He gets antsy when he has to stay in one place too long, and in particular with a woman who would often take off and leave her underaged children at the house by themselves while he slept in the next room. His truck had Texas plates, but he explained that he couldn’t really go back to Texas because he has too many felony warrants there, but for crimes that are only misdemeanors in Colorado due to legalization of marijuana. He referred to several other acquaintances who were in the same situation, running from Texas and relocating in Colorado to avoid being charged with felonies. Having worked as part of the criminal justice system for the better part of the past 25 years, I found this an interesting unintended consequence of legalization. He was also thankful for the fact that he could carry a gun in Colorado since his crimes were not felonies here.

We had a good conversation. I decided that he was somewhat attractive except for the awful state of his teeth. He encouraged me to call the city and even the police, that I shouldn’t have to deal with all the garbage in the backyard, having two young children and all. After speaking with him for about 45 minutes, I thought that maybe the garbage in the backyard might have been the least of my concerns for the past several months, had I been wiser.

Now, both tenants are gone, and the owner of the house has pulled up a dumpster and the dirty work has begun. My other neighbor informed me that the owner would be removing the grow from the house permanently, as he had had Louis remove all the plants and equipment, and that he might even sell the house. At first, I was hopeful. Maybe a nice family would move in next door and I wouldn’t have all the constant car and person traffic, as well as the really smelly period just before harvest, when, before a few weeks ago, I thought hundreds of skunks were being slaughtered each summer. But then, isn’t there a saying about familiarity or the known versus the unknown?

Can He Be Our Dad?

We were headed off to the Dinosaur exhibit at the zoo last night, meeting a coworker and his wife and son. I received a text from him saying they were running about half hour late, so we stopped at a BBQ restaurant not far from the zoo. After a failed dinner – my kids ONLY eat hamburgers and french fries and tender shredded meat covered in tangy sweet BBQ sauce is abhorrent to them – we hopped back in the car to head to the zoo.

As we were pulling out, my daughter noticed an older man, dressed head to toe in camouflage, surrounded by backpacks, with a long, gray beard and wraparound sunglasses.

My daughter says from the backseat, “Momma, can he be our dad?”

“Who? That man with the long beard?”

“Yes. He looks nice.”

My heart broke in two right then. Like it always does when I’m overwhelmed by the crushing “you are less than because you are a single mom and your kids will wind up wounded” feeling.

“Honey, I think he’s homeless.”

“Well, then we can bring him home. He can live with us. He can be our dad.”

That put the cherry on top of my already feeling insecure parenting sundae. At the zoo, she reveled in the attention of my male coworker, begging us to each hold each of her hands and “jump” her.

We have a good life. Sometimes things can eat at you though. I’m still working on my heart of steel.

neelah-boots

 

When You Can’t Sleep…

My mind is racing and I can’t seem to quiet it. I’ve been up late these past few weeks focusing on exploring and expanding my two new businesses and I find it hard to shut off my brain at bedtime.

This evening, while purchasing 3 burger combo meals, I stumbled into the life story of someone who was dealing with a lot of pain. She was watching my daughter spin around a hand railing. My unique child, wearing knee-high black gladiator sandals with a pink leotard, tutu and tiara. The woman asked what my job was and I blurted out “I work for the State.” Brilliant. I clarified what I actually did “for the State” and she proceeded to share with me that her daughter had been murdered by the babysitter who cared for her nearly 30 years ago. She lamented that, despite the fact she had joined several support groups over the years, seen therapists, etc., she still found herself dwelling on it and talking about it even after so many years. That made a lot of sense to me. How could one forget or “put to rest” the death of their child?

At the end of her story, she started to tear up. She thanked me for doing the work I do. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone from the general public thank me for my work. I thanked her for sharing her story. And now it’s nearly 1 am and I can’t stop thinking about her. ❤️

Dog Days of Summer

I just googled this to find out what it really means as the phrase has become relevant to our current situation. As I type this, I’m watching a large, hairy, German Shepard lounging across my pleather love seat, chewing on her leg.

Ms. Naughty Pants, not her real name, is staying with us for two weeks. She has 11 nights left to be exact. She has by far been the most trying dog we’ve watched so far as part of our new pet sitting business. While her ears are the biggest part of her body, she doesn’t use them for listening. They are more for show, perched on the top of her head, always swiveling.

Physically, she reminds me of someone who may have a drug problem; thin, always scratching, and kind of anxious and jumpy, sometimes leaping off the ground several feet in the air to avoid a rock or a wrapper on the sidewalk. When I tell her to do something she doesn’t want to do, like to get off my bed or stop chewing on my daughter’s head, she talks back to me. Argues, really. The first time she did this, I responded. Like engaging a teenager who is trying to reason with me about why she should have an extra half hour on her phone. She would debate with me, at times matching my tone, and other times, escalating the argument by yelping at me or sending me a low growl. Now, I just give her “the look” and she usually turns around and storms off, only to return moments later to start all over again.

She is constantly trying to escape from my home and she tracks my daughter like a large rabbit she is trying to take out. When the kids are getting ready for school or for bed, or eating dinner, I have to tie her up in the kitchen so they can have a few moments to collect themselves. When she is tied up, her personality changes. She relaxes, stretches out across the floor and stares at us quietly as we move around. It’s almost like having the run of my tiny house boggles her mind. I really hope she settles in soon, otherwise it is going to be a long two weeks.

A few months ago, I learned about this business from a coworker. Kind of like a dog (and cat) bed and breakfast. The idea was appealing. I had run up several thousand dollars in veterinary bills trying to save our Whippet and since we have been living pretty much paycheck to paycheck, I haven’t had any extra money to put towards bills beyond the minimum monthly payment. Taking care of other people’s dogs while they are traveling seemed like a fitting way to restore our finances.

So here we are. My son, who loves most animals without thinking, and my daughter, who fears most animals other than bugs and worms, promoting ourselves on the website Rover.com as a one-dog family who treats our customers’ pets as if they are our own.

We’ve been pretty lucky so far, even with Ms. Naughty Pants, and after a day or two, our guest usually fits right in. We send tons of pictures and updates via the website so the dog’s family can see what they are doing during his or her stay. When it is time for him or her to leave, we have already grown attached and I feel a little anxious when I realize we may never see each dog again. All of the owners we’ve met have been exceptionally nice as well.

I am currently thinking through creative ways to attract more clients so we can keep a somewhat steady stream of guests. I’m thrilled that we happen to have a great yard and not very fancy furnishings. And since the large, illegal marijuana grow next door shut down this month, we no longer have guard pitbulls chained to the front of our neighbor’s house, which have be distracting for our canine guests. But that is another story for another time….

 

Micro-moment: My class

I just finished my second session of a class I decided to take this summer at the local rec center. My teacher approached me afterwards and said she was happy to see me come back, she wasn’t sure if I would after last week. I told her this was my special hour once a week all for me and I wasn’t giving it up, no matter how silly I felt.

As I left, I teared up. I love learning and I haven’t taken a regular class for me only in 7 years. I feel good but also really emotional right now. I love the safe space of my new class and the ladies I’ve met there.