Monday, September 27, 2010

Remarried with Children - Barbara LeBey

This is probably the last book of its kind I’m going to read for awhile. Not that it was bad; in fact, it was really pretty good. I’m just ready for a break.

What interested me most was that Barbara LeBey is not just a step-mother but is also a lawyer and former judge. Yet doesn’t back down when talking about how messed up our court systems are when it comes to custody, child support, and step-families.

The book contains a lot of practical advice interspersed with real-life vignettes.

Probably one of the best books I’ve read on the topic.

And I’m still working on changing what I can and accepting what I can’t change. :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Like Dandelion Dust - Karen Kingsbury

Book club book for September – mainly because the movie is being released across the country over the next three weekends (although not here until Oct.8).

In Like Dandelion Dust Karen tackles the topic of adoption…and what happens when the biological parents decide they want the child back.

Rip Porter was sent to jail for domestic violence right before Wendy, his wife, discovers her pregnancy. To protect her child, she signs adoption papers. When Rip is released and learns of it, Wendy joins with him to regain custody of the little boy that has always lived in her heart.

Jack and Molly Campbell adopted Joey when he was just an infant and have had an idyllic past for years. Life couldn’t be any better. It is perfect. Wonderful. Bliss.

Then they get the news.

A judge has ordered that custody of Joey will revert back to his biological parents, Rip and Wendy.

I enjoyed this book more the first time I read it many years ago than I did this last time. Although I did still enjoy it. Partly, I was reading it in a rush this time. Also, the answers seemed a bit to pat and the conclusion a bit too rushed.

Still, I recommend: Read the book…go watch the movie. Do both.  :)

Lessons from the Classroom - Hal Urban

Wonderful, wonderful book. Inspiring and practical, duplicable information.

Hal Urban was a classroom teacher (high school) for thirty-some-odd years. and he was an excellent teacher at that. This book covers the 20 things good teachers do.

I already greet my kids at the door every day. I might try to make it more formal next year. They couldn’t care less this year, it seems.

I love the way he always established the atmosphere of his classroom before he ever got into the curriculum. If I had one thing to do over about this school year, it would be that. I would have spent more time on guidelines, procedures, and the classroom environment. His sign examples and toxic word pictures are great.

I already plan to go through a unit on goal setting using his plan with my 7th and 8th graders. Although I think I’ll wait until December. It will be something good to do right before Christmas.

I also will be implementing his “Good Kid” notices. I do try balancing my phone calls/emails home between the good and the bad. But I think just jotting a note on a postcard and popping it in the mail might help me be more proactive in recognizing and letting parents know of the good in their kid.

Definitely going to do the teacher performance review at the end of the year.

Where The First Days of School by the Wongs is great to set up your classroom, establish your guidelines, procedures, etc., Mr. Urban’s book covers some of the more intangible things that are still necessary for education and learning of the material to take place – effort, attitude, environment.

A recommend it to any teacher…whether you’ve taught 20 years or just a year or two.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Christian Atheist - Craig Groeschel

This book took me two sessions to read. Fairly thought-provoking.

I picked it up after reading Nancy Alcorn’s (founder of Mercy Ministries) blog about reading it. I figured if it was worth someone as busy as her reading it, I should definitely check it out.

The subtitle Craig Groeschel gives his book kind of sums up the book and defines “Christian atheist”: Believing in God but living as if He doesn’t exist.

And in reading through the pages, I came to the realization that I am more of a Christian Atheist than I would have though. Although he certainly doesn’t approach it in a “Bash you over the head; You’re a horrible person” kind of way, you still close the book surprised by what you’ve seen in yourself and committed to change.

I believe that all Christians are subject to a little atheism. The point of the book is to help you see where you still have room to grow in your faith and relationship with God.

The chapters cover the various “areas” of Christian atheism. When you Believe in God but…

          1. Don’t Really know Him
          2. Are Ashamed of Your Past
          3. Aren’t Sure He Loves You
          4. Not in Prayer
          5. Don’t Think He’s Fair
          6. Won’t Forgive
          7. Don’t Think You Can Change
          8. Still Worry All the Time
          9. Pursue Happiness at Any Cost
          10. Trust More in Money
          11. Don’t Share Your Faith
          12. Not in His Church

Each one deals with an aspect of not having full faith in God or trusting Him at His Word.

Pastor Groeschel shares stories, Scripture, and practical advice for each area to help you move closer to God and deepen your relationship with him.

I think it’s one of those books that I will revisit every now and then for a spiritual “check up.”

The Ordinary Princess - M.M. Kaye

This is one of my favorite books from when I was young. I just finished reading it to the girls as their bedtime story.

M.M. Kaye just has such a whimsical way to her word choice and use of those words. And I love the story concept. A fairy’s mischief creates a princess who is most ordinary…something not quite acceptable in the royal kingdoms. However, despite this perceived issue, Her Serene Royal Highness Amethyst Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne (Amy for short) is ready for adventure and a good life lived on her terms.

I can say that I enjoy the story concept because when I was younger and dreamed of being an author myself, I fashioned many at tale from this concept.

It is a delightful read.