Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: After the Leaves Fall

http://blog.booksontheknob.org/I love to read!  I have always loved to read!  Now that I am a wife and the mother of a toddler, I don't always get time to read.  Sometimes, I make time by staying up late to read.  I pay for it the next day, but at least I get my book fix in!

One of the blogs that I follow is called Books on the Knob and it has allowed me to expand my reading library without sacrificing space.  They post about free and almost-free ebooks available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and several other sources.  I recommend this blog if you want to get free books for your reading habit.  However, keep in mind that they post about a variety of different books including books that I would not recommend to anyone (erotica, witchcraft/occult, and other sinful topics).

An ebook that I read recently is After the Leaves Fall by Nicole Baart.  It's about a teenage girl named Julia who has suffered some hard times.  Her mother left her when she was nine years old, and her father passed away when she was about 14.  She also falls in love with her best friend Thomas who later breaks her heart.  Most of the story focuses on her freshman year of college where she majors in engineering and dates the TA of one of her classes.

The story left me wanting more -- not because it was such a great book, but rather because it lacked plot, depth, meaning, and a satisfying ending.  It was interesting enough to keep me reading it, but unless I can get the sequel for free, it's not interesting enough for me to read the sequel.  I was disappointed in the choices that the girl made -- although, for her to keep the baby is the RIGHT choice.  (Sorry for the plot-buster.)  The discussion questions at the end alluded to how she found her way back to God and I frankly just did not see that in the book.  The ending made mention that she was seeking, but that part of the story was not well-developed at all.  It made it seem like this is the kind of book that "you only know it's a Christian book because they stick a few Bible verses in it and mention God once or twice."  If you take those few mentions out, you are not left with a Christian book at all.

And the little chick story?  Totally did not get that at all.  If you get it, feel free to enlighten me in the comments.
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Singleton Community Center, Bartlett, TN

My daughter and I visited the little playground located at the Singleton Community Center in Bartlett, TN.  It's located at 7266 Third Road.  I don't know what the Community Center is all about; perhaps I'll check it out the next time we visit this playground.

The thing I like best about this playground is that it's in the shade!  This would be the perfect playground to go to on a hot summer day!

As you can see, it's a small playground, but Gracie loved it!  She smiled the whole time we were there and didn't want to leave.



My daughter is very adventurous: she likes to climb on the larger play equipment!


I'm thankful that she did NOT want to try out this suspension bridge.

She did seem to want to slide on the bridge, though!



Here she is peeking through the little tunnel.  She thought it was funny that she saw me on the other side.


I had read that there were baby swings here, but apparently not.  That's the only drawback to this playground.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Yale Road Neighborhood Park, Bartlett, TN

Yale Road Neighborhood Park is one of the parks maintained by the City of Bartlett, TN.  It is located at 6241 Yale Road.  Here is the location on GoogleMaps.


 There is ample parking available at the front of the park, and it is easy to get to from Yale Road.

 From here you can see the playground.

 From the parking lot, you walk down this hill to get to the lake or to go up the steps to the playground.

 A few people brought bread to feed the ducks.  The ducks decided they had better things to do.

 However, the turtles showed up in droves to partake of the free food!

 Here is a view of the playground from the lakeshore.

 This John Deere 'Dozer is just the right size for small fry.

 However, my daughter was more interested in the BIG play equipment!

 It didn't take her long to head for the stairs.  She actually went down the slide before I could even get down and go to where she was!


 She loved this swing!  It's only been in the last week or so that she has liked swinging.

 There is a walking trail that goes through the park.  To avoid going down the stairs, I took the trail back to the parking lot.  It was a little bit longer walk, but easier to navigate.

They do have benches and picnic tables as well.

All in all, we really enjoyed this park.  It is very well kept up and is a very pleasant place to play in.  Next time we go, we will take bread for the ducks.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Learning to Love - A Giveaway


My friend Valerie (of The Bishop's Wife) is hosting a giveaway! She has been reading the book If by Amy Carmichael and has been posting very convicting quotes from it.  Now she is giving you a chance to win your own copy!  Go to her Giveaway post and enter to win!
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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Small steps can be very productive!

For several years, I have put different items into file folders that are labeled "Things to Do Online," "To Be Typed," "Remove From List," and "Things to Take Care of."  These are things that are not urgent and can wait.  While it is a good thing to have them sorted and filed, unfortunately, they do not get done.

I started doing something new this past week that has made a difference.  One thing is that I set up a "tickler file" which is separate file folders that are labeled 1 to 31 (for each day of the month) as well as January - December.  On 3x5 cards I have written down specific things that I want to do on a weekly basis or things that I consider to be projects that I want to work on at least a little at a time.  I put each 3x5 card in the file folder for the day that I think would be a good day to work on it.  Each day, I go over these 3x5 cards and make sure that my schedule allows for those tasks to be done.  Because I am a listmaker, I write down these tasks on a piece of paper for the day's "To Do List."  If I think that something can and should be postponed, I just put it in a future date's file folder.

For my projects, I paperclipped them all together and put them in a file folder for Monday so that I can go through them and put individual cards in the file folders of the day that I want to work on that project.  Some projects and some tasks I know will take more time than I could do in one day (especially when I do much of these things during my daughter's naps), so sometimes I plan on working on them for just a few minutes.  Even just 15 minutes on a task moves the project along rather than doing nothing and putting it off for a more convenient time.  Those projects that I will wait on, I put in the following Monday's file folder to be reviewed then.  Some I may even put in a future month's file folder.

This afternoon, after my much-needed Sunday nap, I had some free time available to work on something, though I didn't really have anything scheduled.  Sundays are for church and naps and little else!  Since I didn't get a chance to work on my "Remove From Lists" folder on Friday or Saturday, I decided to pull that out.  In about 15-20 minutes worth of time (before my daughter woke up and it was time to get ready to go back to church for our evening service), I was able to take care of 10 pieces of correspondence to companies from whose mailing lists I would like to be removed.  All that's left in that folder are two catalogs, and I know I will easily be able to take care of that within five minutes the next time I assign myself that task.

On a side note, I was more-than-a-little perturbed at a charitable organization that wrote asking for donations because it was addressed to my 16-month-old daughter and included a dime that they wanted me to send back with my donation.  Realistically, I know that they have no idea how old the people on their lists are; but, seriously, sending a dime to a 16-month-old?  She's more likely to swallow that dime than do anything else with it!!  I'm reasonably sure I know how they got her name.  I ordered address labels with my daughter's name on them (to use for when she writes Thank You notes and sends pictures and cards to her relatives, etc.), and I'm pretty sure they sold her name.

I was really excited about being able to make a big dent in that one folder in such a short period of time.  I'm reminded of something that FlyLady says:  Hit a lick at a snake.  Of course, if it were a real snake, I'd be killing it dead, but theoretical snakes are ok to kill at a slower pace. One way or the other, they get killed.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

PC Maintenance Help

A few years ago, I listened to a few podcasts by a couple on BlogTalkRadio who gave computer advice.  I didn't continue listening due to time and also because I found them to be annoying and VERY liberal.  I did pick up some pointers and took notes.  Here are a few things I learned.  Keep in mind that this is from a few years ago and, secondly, if you try any of them, it's at your own risk.  This is a rather disjointed type of post since it comes from notes I took on 3x5 cards.

McAfee Site Advisor allows you to download a widget that will help you determine if a website is safe to go to or not.

MajorGeeks.com has a LOT of computer programs to download to help you maintain your computer.

A few recommended programs that you can find on MajorGeeks:
SpyBot Search & Destroy
AVG Antivirus (I have personally used this a number of years ago and thought it did a great job finding and removing viruses.)

If you have a slow computer:
1.  Upgrade your memory -- buy the most RAM that you can afford

2.  You may have too much stuff in StartUp
Go to Run, type in msconfig
Click on the Startup tab
Uncheck the things you don't want it to run on startup

3.  ccleaner -- use this program (download from MajorGeeks.com)

4.  You may have a fragmented hard drive, so it would be good to "defrag" your computer.
There are some programs at MajorGeeks.com that can help with that.

5.  You may be infected with viruses.


Recommended Firewall program:  comodo firewall

If you need an "office suite" but do not want to pay for MSOffice, go to OpenOffice and download their open source free program.  I have used this.

Every 3-6 months, vacuum your computer for dustbunnies.


If you have a laptop, get a chillmat to keep it cool.

Use BelArc Advisor to print out information about your computer system. Keep it on file and update regularly.

Weekly Tasks that you should do:
Antivirus
Adaware
Spybot Search & Destroy (uncheck auto)
Spyware Doctor
Spykeeper
Hard drive defragmenter
Spyware blaster
ccleaner
windows update
check firewall
backup data
wipe screen

Monthly Tasks that you should do:
Update software
Check paper & ink supply
Clean keyboard, mouse, exterior (use canned air)
Check backups
Check date & time

Semiannual Tasks that you should do:
Open up computer, evict dustbunnies using vacuum with brush attachment
Check UPS/power supply
Check ISP for better deals
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