Crazy Busy

The next several weeks are going to be crazy-busy for me, but the up-side is that my boys are both thoroughly enjoying themselves because of it.

I signed Connor up for swimming lessons earlier this year, and unlike many learning situations, he’s taken to them like a *ahem* fish to water, lol. He’s also playing T-ball with the town Recreation Dept. He doesn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the swimming lessons, but with a little bribery (like kite-flying or roller skating afterwards), he’s a somewhat willing participant.

I have to admit, I’m seriously impressed with the town’s facilities and sports programs for kids. We have a huge complex of sports fields that are all interconnected by paved walkways, there are somewhat clean and non-stinky port-a-potty’s, a playground for younger kids, and several concession stands. Did I mention that this place is frickin’ huge? There must be a minimum of 20 different sports fields in this place! I was speaking to one of the t-ball coaches one day before practice, and he said if you walk throughout the complex and all the interconnecting paths, you’d have walked something like 2.6 miles! And that’s just this one particular recreation area…there are at least three others I know of, and that’s not all of them by a long stretch.The place where we do our swimming lessons is amazing, too. It’s a bunch of ponds connected by a through road, and each pond has a large grassy area with picnic tables and grills for cooking, a small beach, concession stand and restrooms, lifeguards, and roped off areas for the kids to swim in. The water is clean (there are even small fish swimming in the little inlets for the boys to try to catch!), and there’s plenty of shade for moms with babies. Just a warning…either make sure you bring plenty of money for the ice cream man, or that your kids know in advance that they’re not getting any ice cream, lol. My mother has come with us the past two days, and we’ve been having a ball.

That’s his swimming teacher. She’s got the patience of a saint!

Now to the important part of this post. Since Kyle was born, my life has gotten to be much more complicated. Not only because I now have two sons, but also because Connor is five now, and he’s got his own activities and schedule to keep. My mother said to me today…”I don’t know how you do all the packing and running around without losing your mind”.

There are a couple of things I do that make my life manageable so I only forget something if I happen to misplace an appointment card or don’t write something on the shopping list when I use the last of it or something silly like that.

First of all, I use Cozi.com. It’s a calendar, journal, to do list, and shopping list all in one place. You’re probably saying “big effing deal, I can do all that with Microsoft Outlook”, and normally I would agree. But…Cozi.com also has an Outlook toolbar add-on, so you can sync it with Outlook. It’s online so you can access it anywhere. And, they have iPhone and Android apps, a mobile website for Blackberries and Palms, the ability to have Cozi read you your shopping lists or appointments over your cell phone, and the ability to have Cozi send you a text message from your calendar, to do list or shopping list. Oh, and did I mention their sidebar gadget? In other words, this site rocks.

Unfortunately, I haven’t jumped on the cell-phone data usage bandwagon yet, so what I do is add all my appointments/to dos/shopping items to Cozi, then sync that with Outlook. I also use the iOutlook sidebar gadget just because I’m super-picky and like the way it looks better than the Cozi gadget.

So, here’s my answer. I worked out what things we do every day (dishes, laundry, meals, etc.), got us into a pretty good schedule for the daily stuff, sleeping and naps; make to-do lists as if my life depended on it, I prioritize, and I couldn’t live without my Outlook calendar.

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Some Updates & Don’t Lose it All!

Well, as you’ve probably guessed, I’ve been pretty busy lately and haven’t had a chance to post anything new. Well, it’s time to play catch-up, lol.

I finally caved and bought myself a new laptop. My old one has definitely seen better days (it’s been being beaten-up on an almost daily basis by my 5yo), and it has apparently decided that a cooling fan and doing a complete factory restore aren’t enough to stop it from constantly shutting itself off. I’m sure eventually I’ll figure out what’s causing the problem (I think there’s an issue with the monitor driver), but for now the constant shut-downs interrupt my day-to-day life way too much to spend too much time worrying about it. So, that’s where around a week and a half went – setting up the new laptop and transferring and organizing all my data and files. I’m still not done with the organizing, but I can chip away at that a little at a time.

I’ve also enrolled in a University’s online Bachelor Degree program. (No, it’s not that evil school whose initials are PU!) This school is very reputable, and I can’t wait to start my classes this Tuesday. Oh, and I’m getting my degree in English – I haven’t decided what my minor is going to be yet – I’m going to have to speak with my academic advisor about that before I decide.

Okay, time for another computer lesson!

Backing up is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO TO PRESERVE YOUR DATA. I know, I hate all-caps too, but I needed to make sure you understood how important this is…even if it meant yelling at you :-).

You are probably thinking…”Okay, I burned my pictures to DVDs. I’m covered, right?” Guess again. If your computer were to have a major failure today, what information would you lose? Here’s a rundown of some of the stuff that would be gone if your laptop got oh, let’s say run over by a train:

  • Pictures
  • Music
  • Website Log-ins
  • Custom Settings
  • Letters, Faxes, etc.
  • Resumes
  • E-mails
  • Videos
  • Downloads
  • Software

And those are just the ones that come to mind quickly.

By now some of you may be freaking out, but don’t worry…there are very easy, and fairly inexpensive ways to prevent this catastrophe.

Most Windows-based computers now come with Backup and Restore (located in your Control Panels). The purpose of this is to allow you to schedule automatic backups, basically allowing you to go about your business knowing that your data is being backed up in case of a computer failure. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  • Have plenty of blank DVD-Rs around and do your backups with you present so you can change the DVDs as needed. You can purchase a 100-pack of DVD-Rs for around $25. The brand isn’t that important as long as you don’t purchase a brand you’ve never heard of before.
  • Purchase an external hard drive. These generally plug into your computer or laptop via a USB connection and can be left unattended during backup. The only drawback to this method of backup is that some drives are programmed to shut down after a certain amount of inactivity. What I’ve done to get around this is set an appointment in my calendar every two days with a 15 minute reminder that my drive needs to be plugged in and active, with the backup scheduled a few mintues behind the calendar reminder. Another nice thing about an external hard drive is that you can also save files to it manually and work on them from there. You can purchase a 1 Terabyte (1000 Gigabyte/10000 Megabyte) external drive for around $100. The key here is to realize that external drives are wonderful, but they don’t last forever. You can typically expect to get 5-8 years out of one.
  • Another option is to purchase an internal hard drive and an enclosure for it. The benefits of this option are that internal hard drives generally last longer than externals, they are also usually cheaper, the enclosures can take either an IDE or SATA drive of virtually any size, and the enclosure is only around $25.
  • There are also many companies offering online storage for backups. I tried it, but wasn’t too impressed. First of all, they control how much space you get, and the more you need, the more it costs. Secondly, there’s no telling when a natural disaster could occur and wipe out thier servers. At least if you’re using any of the other methods and your house starts to burn down, you can grab your backup on the way out, saving any precious pictures, etc.

So, there you go. My recommendation would be to figure out which backup method will work best for you and get your backups scheduled as soon as possible…you never know when a power surge or some other catastrophe could hit your computer.

Feel free to e-mail me if you get stuck or have any questions! :-) cheryl@coffeewithcheryl.com

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