What Happens When Someone Takes Over Your Email Account?!

Recently I traveled for almost 3 weeks to the US (from our home in South Africa) to see family and friends. During my trip, I figured that I had used 7 different computers to check email and communicate with my husband back home. Somewhere along the way, a virus or spyware or something like that snagged my password to my gmail account. Two days after I got back home, I could not access my account. This struck panic in my heart because that is my main email account that I use for everything – facebook, twitter, etc. – plus all the google products I use – picasa, blogger, blog reader, ad sense, calendar, etc.

So I remained calm and went through the steps that gmail has to restore your password. It’s a long questionnaire that I didn’t know the answers to most. I quickly breezed through it thinking it was just a formality. Imagine my surprise when a day later I received an email from gmail saying they could not restore my account because I did not have adequate proof that I was who I said I was.

It’s hard to prove you are someone online. It’s not like you can flash a passport or other form of picture id.

So after 4 more attempts at the questionnaire – and some digging to find the answers to questions I didn’t know – my email account was restored. But it left me with a new caution about life online that I’d love to share with you. Here are some of my tips – and ones I found while searching online for help.

1. Don’t use the same email for EVERYTHING! I have five different emails that come to my mailbox on my mac, but I was used to using my gmail for everything so I wouldn’t forget. It’s worth the effort to use different emails to log in to the different places. Make a physical list somewhere if you have to – which I do – and keep it in a safe place.

2. Don’t use the same password for EVERYTHING! This is probably a no-brainer but I was totally guilty of it! I’m a mom, I’m busy, I have limited brain space and passwords are not on my priority list, so why not use the same one everywhere, was my reasoning. Now I do the same as with number 1 – physical list.

3. If you have a gmail account, take time to write out the answers to these questions. I don’t know if it works the same with hotmail or any other online email, but I would imagine it might. These are the answers to the questions asked on the gmail questionnaire: (This list came from Digital Inspiration blog.)

  • The month and year when your created your Gmail / Google Account. You can look at the last page of your Gmail Inbox (or go to Sent Items) to get an approximate idea of the date when you created the account.
  • If you created a Gmail account by invitation, write the email address of the person who first sent you that invite for Gmail.
  • The email addresses of your most frequently emailed contacts (the top 5).
  • The names of any custom labels that you may have created in your Gmail account.
  • The day/month/year when you started using various other Google services (like AdSense, Orkut, Blogger, etc.) that are associated with the Google account that you are trying to recover. If you’re not certain about some of the dates, provide your closest estimate. I looked at the first date of photos I had uploaded to picasa and my first post in blogger.

4. Read privacy settings on social networking sites like facebook and twitter. Please be extra careful and diligent if you have pre-teens or teenagers online. Take time with them to read through those settings and choose the ones you are most comfortable with.

I just want to encourage everyone to be careful and take precautions. I’m not really sure what these people wanted with my account. The only activity I could find was some crazy gibberish on one of my old blogs. Which is weird, because they are free anyway.

I’m sure there are lots of more tips and I’d love to hear some of yours in the comment section.

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Mom-iversity

I just got this email from a blog I sort of follow. (For some reason I never added her new blog address to my RSS feeds, so I still had the old one which hadn’t been updated in a while.) Anyway. Thankfully she sent this newsletter to everyone who had downloaded her free e-book (which I had) so I got it just in time.

And I’m sharing it with you just in time! Hope you can jump on board and be a part of this intentional period of growth. You can read all about it here at her blog. She’s beginning this thing for the month of October called Mom-iversity. The best thing about it is that YOU plan out what you are going to study, how you will do it and how much time it will take. She supplies the accountability and community to grow and learn from each other. What a great idea!

I looked through her list of resources – and there’s no rule that you HAVE to do something from her list – but one of the books I’ve been trying to get through was on there – Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. So here’s my motivation plus I get to share nuggets with new friends online! Yea!

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Hello, again…

I just can’t go on to blogging about all the subjects floating around in my head without acknowledging my long absence from posts on this blog….I’m sorry. To those few people who have continued to check out my blog, Thank YOU! Sorry to waste your time. My hope is that the next few months I’ll do much better!

So in the past four months, much has happened in my life… and you’ll see more about it on the blog. The biggest thing is that we launched the church we’ve been planning and preparing for. On August 8th, The Life Church of Durban started! We are training up leaders, building the service teams and inviting everyone we can to come check us out. This being our first year, we’re learning the ebbs and flows of holidays and school breaks and how they affect attendance to church on Sunday. It’s a great learning time and we are enjoying every bit of it!

We are also thrilled that we have another baby on the way! Isaiah is 10 months old and will be 16 months when baby #2 is born in March!

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Things I’ve Learned So Far as a Parent: Control My Reactions

My little one is only 6 months old, but already I notice him looking at me for reassurance in a new situation. Maybe there was a loud noise or a new sound – as he decides if it warrants an outburst of tears, he’ll look to me. If I’m smiling or laughing, we often avoid those tears and we get smiles instead. Already he trusts my judgment and feels safe if mommy is not worried.

This has been tested as he’s learning to sit up on his own and reach for toys. His balance is not so good yet, so sometimes he falls flat on his face, literally.  Most times I try to sit right by him and steady him as he wobbly stretches to get something of interest, but occasionally he verves off in a new direction and falls.  The first time it happened, I gasped – and of course he cried. Now I bite my tongue, help him up and try to look happy.

Yet another thing I’m learning since being a parent – how to control my reactions. How often have my reactions made situations much worse than they really are? Over-reacting to things people say just makes me miserable. Emotionally responding to difficult situations does not help anything. Crying, venting or just getting angry at things we can’t control just adds stress to our lives.

Just before he toppled - do you see the lean towards the right?

So, not saying I’ve learned this, but my little boy is giving me some good practice at controlling those reactions.

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My First Mother’s Day

This weekend was my first official Mother’s Day! I say official because I’ve been a mother of furry babies for quite a while, but now I’m the mom of a fabulous, super intelligent, totally adorable little boy!

Gazing lovingly up at his daddy

I absolutely LOVE being a mommy! God has been so good to us and given us the desires of our hearts. (Psalm 37:4)

I had a wonderful day – went to church (where they gave out chocolate to the moms, always a good thing!), lunch, stroll around the mall and relax with my family. My gift was a beautiful glass pandora bead addition to my charm bracelet. Just beautiful!

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Real Life

Sorry to be MIA from the blog world for a bit… we had a little dose of real life – my husband had to have back surgery. Check out the details on our ministry blog.

The good part of it was that my sister came over to help me with Isaiah. It was an unexpected trip and a nice treat for her to see Isaiah at this fun stage of development (5 months). Our home church sent her (they take such good care of us!) and it was a huge help! I could be at the hospital with Greg and have no worries since Isaiah was in such good hands! And he took to her right away. He saw her when he was just a month old, but of course could not remember that. We do look alike, so I joked the first day when I came home from the hospital that he realized – “wait, there are two mommies!”

Aunt Sonja and Isaiah

So now both Greg and I have experienced hospitalization in South Africa (me when I gave birth to Isaiah). The crazy thing is neither of us have anything to compare it to since we were never in the hospital in the States (unless you count tonsils removed when I was little, but I don’t remember it).

One thing that is different is the strict visiting hours. In the States, at least where we live, spouses could even spend the night if they wanted to. Here, I had two hours (at different times) I could see Greg. The first night when I stayed just a couple minutes pass the end of the visiting hour, the nurse asked if I was going to stay and nurse him all night. I said, “Sure.” She was kidding. I wasn’t.

Out to eat with my sis the last night she was here

He’s back home now with a big cut along his neck that is healing up nicely. One more week of (almost) total rest, then he can go back to a little more activity. It’s been an interesting season. Since February, Greg’s been battling something – first severe tonsillitis (three rounds of antibiotics to kick it!) then the back injury. We are declaring health and healing in our house! Thank you God for seeing us through!

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Holiday Getaway

One thing about South Africans – they love their holidays! In April there are a couple of public holidays and of course we just finished Easter. And any public holiday is a chance to pack up the car and getaway somewhere.

Isaiah and I on the beach in Sea Park, South Africa

We had a little holiday – although we worked it out that it didn’t fall on a public holiday so we could get the off season rate. It was our first purely rest and relaxation getaway since we’ve arrived in Africa – a year and half ago! We’ve done a little traveling but it was always built around ministry opportunities.

It seems like little getaways – or holidays as they call it here – are very important to South Africans. Our friends are always “going on holiday” somewhere or another, even if it’s just for a weekend or so. It’s a part of the culture I love – slow down and enjoy life a bit. We Americans could definitely learn something about that!

Check out our other blog (www.gregandkristinevans.com) for pictures from our holiday getaway. It was a great time!

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