Tuesday, May 2, 2017

April Books

It's been a slow month for reading around these parts, but the good news is that I'm 5 books ahead of schedule for my goal of reading 25 books this year.


Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French ParentingBringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A fun and funny parenting book. I also found many things quite informative. I loved the author's take on the differences between American parenting and French parenting. In truth, I think the French are doing some things WAY better, and I plan to use some of their methods when our baby arrives!


The Winter Sea (Slains, #1)The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this book! At first, I didn't like switching back and forth between Carrie's story and the story she was writing, but as the story went on, I wanted to hear more and more of both of them.


For the record, these were both audio books from Audible,  I am just so lazy at home lately that I'm lucky that I even make dinner most nights.

The Complete Book of Breastfeeding: The Classic GuideThe Complete Book of Breastfeeding: The Classic Guide by Sally Wendkos Olds

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book was given to me by a friend who breastfed both of her children. I am planning to nurse my son, and this is an AMAZING resource. While I ultimately didn't read every single page (I skipped the chapter for dads and skimmed the chapter about special circumstances), I found the information I DID read to be very helpful. I feel much more informed about my decision, and I may have also dog eared pages for quick reference later.

If you are pregnant and considering breast feeding, I would HIGHLY recommend this book!



View all my reviews

DNF
I borrowed an eBook from the library this month called The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes, and despite my love for all things English history, I just couldn't get into it.  I was basically forcing myself to read at least one chapter a night.  When I realized I was forcing myself to read it, I gave up.  I still wasn't halfway through the book.  I just don't think I enjoyed the author's writing style as much as I have other authors who write similar historical fiction (i.e. Philippa Gregory or Allison Weir).

What have you been reading lately?



Monday, April 3, 2017

March Books


It was a slow month for books around here, but I got a couple in!

The Baker's DaughterThe Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book was good, but it wasn't a book that I had a hard time putting down. I liked the characters, and I particularly enjoyed the parts of the story that took place during WWII. The story could have stood up on its own without the other plot of Reba and Rikki in the present. I almost feel like their portion of the story was unnecessary.


America's First DaughterAmerica's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this book! As we all know, I love historical fiction, and I haven't read a lot of historical fiction based in America! haha I really enjoyed this story told from the perspective of Patsy Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson's daughter.

There was a lot of insight into the life of one of our founding fathers as well as the political and historical events of the time. I listened to this on Audible, and I looked forward to each listening session!



View all my reviews

What did you read this month?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Because I Haven't Blogged in awhile....

I bring you a survey I stole from Kristin because I'm tired, and I don't feel like during work that I should be doing. I started this over a week ago, and today, I'm home sick with a cold.

1. What are your nicknames? What you do like to be called? Since my given name is Rebecca, and I like to be called Becky (although I don't dislike my given name at all...), I would say that Becky is my nickname.  Rebeck is technically a nickname given to me by my brother and cousin who meant it as a form of "reject," but I actually like it and it forms my user names and the name of this blog.  So take THAT!  People also call me Beck from time to time.

2. What books are on your shelf begging to be read? I have the second and third books in The Land of Stories series that have been sitting there for awhile, but I'm just not into reading them.  The first one was good, I just don't know if I'm ever going to read the others.  I need to decide so I can add them to my classroom library.


3. How often do you doodle? What do your doodles look like? I really don't doodle.  I'm not much of an artist....


4. What do you do if you can’t sleep at night? Do you count sheep? Toss and turn? Try to get up and do something productive? I have never been a person who has trouble sleeping...until now that I'm in my third trimester of pregnancy.  Sometimes, I just give up and turn on the TV or do something on my phone.  The other night, it was bad enough that I actually went downstairs, played on my phone for about an hour, watched some TV, and finally fell asleep on the couch until I needed to get up.

5. How many days could you last in solitary confinement? How would you do it? While I do spend a lot of time alone, I have lots of entertainment at my disposal: books, phone, TV, computer, Netflix, etc.  So if I was allowed access to books, I could make it quite awhile, but if I have none of those things, I don't think I'd last more than a day.


6. Do you save old greeting cards and letters? Throw them away? Letters...yes.  Especially these days.  I mean, do people even send letters any more?!  I did start making small albums of the photo Christmas cards.  I send them myself, so I know how much they cost!  I've always felt terrible throwing them out.  So I've started using binder rings and a hole punch to put together a little album of all the photo cards we get for the holidays.


7. What is your dream career? A professional singer


8. When making an entrance into a party, do you make your presence known? Do you slip in and look for someone you know? Do you sneak in quietly and find a safe spot to roost? It depends on the situation.  If it is a party with a lot of people I don't know, I will slip in and latch on to the first person I do know.  Otherwise, I like people to know I'm there.  haha


 9. What is your strongest sense? If you had to give one up, which would it be? I can honestly say that I don't know what my strongest sense is....maybe hearing since I'm musically inclined...?  I'm also going to be stubborn here and say that I wouldn't give up ANY of them. 


10. How many times a day do you look at yourself in the mirror? I don't exactly count how many times I look in a mirror each day.  Sometimes, I do notice that even after several trips to the restroom at work, I didn't even give myself a glance in the mirror to be sure I still look like a presentable human being.


11. What’s the strangest thing you believed as a child? I honestly don't know...


12. What is one guilty pleasure you enjoy too much to give up? TV


13. Who performs the most random acts of kindness out of everyone you know? My friend, Kim. 


14. How often do you read the newspaper? Which paper? Which sections? I don't read the newspaper.


15. Which animals scare you the most? Why? Snakes because EW.


16. Are you more likely to avoid conflict or engage it head-on? I'm an avoider, for sure.


17. What was the most recent compliment you’ve received and savored? That I look so cute pregnant; I'm getting to that point in my pregnancy where it's hard to keep that in mind, and it's nice to hear!


18. What is something about yourself that you hope will change, but probably never will? My terrible housekeeping skills.


19. Are you a creature of habit? Yes, I am.


20. Are you high maintenance? Explain. I don't think so.  I have a pretty laid back husband, and so while there are things I AM high maintenance about, there are others I'm not because I would go crazy if I tried.


21. When was the last time you really pushed yourself to your physical limits? I wish I could remember.  I've been pregnant for awhile.  These days, sometimes, walking up the stairs is pushing myself to my physical limits.


22. Do you have a whole lot of acquaintances or just a few very close friends? Why? Both. 


23. Are you more inclined to “build your own empire” or unleash the potential of others? I am more of a leader than a follower, so I suppose building my own empire.


24. What’s a strange occurrence you’ve experienced but have never (or rarely) shared with anyone? I'm not sure I have anything that fits this question. 


25. What do you think about more than anything else? Right now....my baby, about how annoying it is that I have to pee again, what to eat, and when I can go to sleep.


26. What’s something that amazes you? Pregnancy.


27. Do you prefer that people shoot straight with you or temper their words? I appreciate people who tell it like it is, but there is a way to do that without being a jerk.


28. Where’s your favorite place to take an out of town guest? I've never had an out of town guest who isn't from where I live.  There's also really nothing that spectacular to do around here.  haha


29. What’s one thing you’d rather pay someone to do than do yourself? Clean 


30. Do you have a catchphrase? I probably do.  I know there are things I say a lot, but I can't seem to think of any right now!


31. What is one of your most cherished memories? Our wedding day


32. How and where do you prefer to study? I don't study these days, since I'm not a student.  But I prefer doing work from the comfort of my couch or propped up in bed.


33. What position do you sleep in? My side


34. What’s your all-time favorite town or city? Scott and I have been to Dallas, Texas a few times to visit friends, and we LOVE it there.  


35. What are the top three qualities that draw you to someone new? Sense of humor, common interests, friendliness


36. How has your birth order/characteristics of siblings affected you? I'm a first born.  So I would say those characteristics are pretty accurate.  I tend to be bossy, a perfectionist, a bit type-A and controlling.


37. If you could eliminate one weakness or limitation in your life, what would it be? I'm not sure...


38. If you could restore one broken relationship, which would it be? I don't really think that I have any broken relationships....just some friendships where we have both drifted apart.  There are definitely people from high school and college that I wish I had more time to connect with.


39. If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? I like my name, but when I took French in high school, we got to pick names, and I chose Michele (pronounced MEE shell) because of the Beatles song.  So I'd probably go with that!


40. Do you believe ignorance is bliss? Why or why not? I think this honestly depends on the situation.


41. What do you consider unforgivable? The true and honest answer here is that nothing is unforgivable.  That's a basic principal of my Faith.


42. Have you forgiven yourself for past personal failures? Yes.  You can't live in the past.

43. How difficult is it for you to forgive someone who refuses to apologize? It certainly doesn't make it easier.  But sometimes, the person you are angry with doesn't even know that they hurt you.


44. Do you hold any convictions that you would be willing to die for? Yes.


45. What three fictional characters best represent you? Anyone who is a princess ;-p


46. In what area of your life are you immature? Housekeeping; as much as I like organization and order, I am just too lazy to clean up.

47. What was the best news you ever received? That I was pregnant


48. How difficult is it for you to be honest, even when your words may be hurtful or unpopular? I am more of a person who keeps my mouth shut unless I know that I am in like-minded company.


49. When did you immediately click with someone you just met? Why? My friend Kim and I became best friends practically instantly.  She started working with a student in my school during my first year in 6th grade.  We were drawn to each other like magnets!


50. When do you find yourself singing? The better question here is when DON'T I find myself singing? 



Monday, March 6, 2017

February Books


Normally, I would have had this post ready for the first of the month, but frankly, March just came out of nowhere!  Here's what I managed to read in February:

I got my first book from Blogging for Books.

Life AfterLife After by Katie Ganshert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Life After was an excellent read. I really enjoyed the characters in this story and the way that they came together. Autumn was a likable character to whom it was easy to relate. I enjoyed "watching" her grow throughout the story to overcome the tragedy that she survived.
I also liked that while the story had a Christian base to it, that it was not the sole focus of the story. The characters' faith is addressed by the narrator and the characters themselves, but it is done in a way that "regular" every day Christians can relate to.



My Not So Perfect LifeMy Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I just love Sophie Kinsella. I've really been enjoying her books lately. They are fun reads with likable characters! This one did not disappoint. I loved it! I really loved Katie and it was great to follow her from start to finish.



View all my reviews

Books I did NOT finish this month:
Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

I got this one on Audible, and I just couldn't get into it.  I was confused.  Sometimes, there is something to be said for having a copy of the book in front of you.  I think I might be able to get this one as an eBook through my local library, so I may give it another go in the future.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Stuff & Things 2/16

Stuff, Things, etc.

Before I begin, I realized that I never shared here Baby's gender!



Today, I am 26 weeks into my pregnancy, and now that I'm over halfway into this journey, there are some things that I've discovered about being pregnant.

1. Being asked, "How are you feeling?" is really annoying.
First, I know people are asking out of genuine kindness.
Second, I have asked many a pregnant friend or colleague this same question multiple times throughout her pregnancy.
BUT what I didn't fully grasp is that I'm not the only person who was asking that question.  Now, I'm understanding how draining that question can be.  Walking into school, I may be asked by two or three people (especially if they're colleagues I don't see on a daily basis) how I'm feeling.

The truth is that I AM feeling pretty good!  Things are going well, and other than being worn out by the end of the day, I'm mostly ok.

2. It's amazing how many times a person can need to go to the bathroom.
One second all is well, the next second, Baby Boy is dancing on my bladder.  I am grateful that I teach 6th graders because it's much easier to leave them for two minutes to run to the restroom.

3. People are quick to remind you that parenting isn't all sunshine and rainbows.
Last week, Kristin wrote a post about her least favorite comment. In my comment on the post, I mentioned that my current least favorite comment is "Just you wait."  This comment follows a story or vent by a parent about some crazy or annoying or awful thing her child(ren) has done.

I know that parenting isn't all sunshine and rainbows.  I'm a teacher for goodness sake.  Some of those things I know just simply from encountering people's children on a daily basis.

But this IS an exciting time in my life, and I'd like to hear, "Just you wait." after some heartwarming story that is told about your kids.

4.  Feeling your baby move is absolutely amazing!
I love it when Baby Boys is moving around in there.  There's starting to be more in the way of kicking now, which is fun.  I love that Scott can now feel that movement.  He's finally starting to believe that there really is a baby in there!  haha

5. Leggings (I obviously didn't just discover these, but I have a new appreciation for them).
I am beyond thankful that it's legging season.  I've invested in quite a few maternity tops, but I only bought 3 pairs of maternity jeans (which are practically like leggings themselves since they don't involve zippers or buttons).

6. Sometimes, you get out of doing things.
People don't ask you to carry stuff.  They let you sit down more.  People are ok with your house being a disaster because you have "an excuse" for being too tired to get it done.

These are things I can totally live with.




Monday, February 6, 2017

Teacher Thoughts: Why Don't People Like Us?


It's been awhile since I've written a Teacher Thoughts post, but I have some things on my mind right now.  Where better to get them out?!

With the new change in our Nation's administration, the topic of education has been popping up in the news.  In Pennsylvania, there are some new bills in the works, and while I am not asking for a political debate or to discuss politics on my blog, it has all brought to mind some things I don't really understand.

Why Don't People Like Educators?

Summers Off
I've mentioned before that people are pretty bitter about teachers getting summers off.  This seems to be one of the biggest reasons why people hate educators.

I'm sorry that I don't have to work for most of June and August and not at all in July.  But that is the schedule for my job.  In this country (or at least most states in our country), we choose not to send our students to school year round.  How is that MY fault?

People don't realize that many teachers have summer jobs to make ends meet.  I am fortunate enough that this is not a necessity for our household.  My salary is spread out over the whole year, and my husband has a very good job.  So while I COULD work in the summer to make extra, I haven't HAD to.

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I spend A LOT of time on my summer vacation preparing for the next school year.  I work on new ways and approaches to my lessons and teaching to try to find ways to keep learning exciting and productive for my students.  Once I am able to access my classroom after the thorough summer cleaning, I am in the building getting my room set up, making copies, and preparing for the students' arrival in August.

I love being able to be available to spend time with my husband on his days off and before or after he goes to work.  This year, I am going to be able to enjoy my summer off with my first baby!

It is certainly a benefit of my job.

But should it really make people hate me?

"Those who can't...teach."
I despise this quote.

People seem to believe that teachers are just a bunch of idiots who went into teaching because they weren't smart enough or good enough to do something else.

Are there teachers of whom this is true?  Probably.

Most of us are not.

I went into teaching because I love kids.  When I was a kid, I used to spend hours playing "school" in our playroom.  I had a little chalkboard and chalk.  I would always help my teachers to correct papers (I remember doing this even in FIRST GRADE!)  Many of my teachers would allow me to take home extras of worksheets we had done in class so that I could use them to play.

Like any job, there are good days and bad, but overall, I love helping my students learn and watching them grow as people and as learners.

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We have good benefits.
I am an employee of the State of Pennsylvania.  While school districts vary in some areas, it is required across the state that each school district provide a minimum of 10 sick days per year.  There is a Bill right now that would eliminate this requirement and make sick leave part of contract negotiations.

Again, I'm "sorry" that I have good options for paid leave should I need it.  For the record, I hardly ever use sick days.  At the beginning of this school year, I had almost 70 stored up.  This turned out to be a good thing because my school district's policy is that I need to use up all of my sick days prior to getting FMLA.  So I will be able to take off from May-June to have my baby, have my summer off, start the next school year, and still have a very good stash of days.

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Let's be honest.  Teaching is a pretty traditional profession.  Teachers are able to have a more traditional family dynamic, which is something that appeals to many who enter the profession.

I don't understand why people hate us for being able to be available to take care of our families.


I could probably go on, but I won't.

The fact is that unless you are an educator or work in a school in some capacity, you really don't know or understand what it's REALLY like to work in education.

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We face a lot of obstacles each day including state mandates & requirements, uncooperative students and/or parents, demands of your individual school district, and ultimately the responsibility of providing the best education possible to our students (despite EVERYTHING previously mentioned).

Yet we still do it.

Most of us do it because we want the best for the future citizens of our nation.

We do it despite constantly being under fire from federal and state governments, as well as the "haters" in society.

And if that doesn't mean that I deserve a summer off, I don't know what does. 

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January Books


New year, new book goals, and I'm off to a running start!  I even got one more book finished right at the end of the month, which I wasn't expecting to do.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
3 Stars

I had two classes that chose this as their novel to read for reading class.  I always reread the books as my classes do so that I can stay on top of what I need to discuss (or not mention yet!) with them.  It helps me refresh my memory for going over their tasks.

I'm not a huge fan of this book, but the kids like it.  Either way, it counts as reading!





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Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
4 Stars

One of my classes chose this one as their novel for reading class.  Despite this not being "my kind" of story, it's actually a really good book, and both girls and boys really enjoy it!









The Atonement Child

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I was disappointed with this book. I didn't hate it, but I definitely didn't love it. Rivers's book Redeeming Love is an amazing book, and this one just did not live up to that for me.

If you're not familiar, Rivers is a Christian author. As you can see in the synopsis, the main character, Dynah, is raped and becomes pregnant is faced with a choice. What annoyed me about this book is the lack of compassion from the Christian characters mainly Dynah's fiance and the Dean of the Christian college they attended. It also really bothered me that for the first half of the book, everyone's reaction to Dynah's options was that she needed to have an abortion or have and keep the child. Adoption wasn't even mentioned until over halfway through the book. 

While obviously no one, including Christians, is perfect, I felt like this book did not reflect Christians well. That disappointed me coming from this author. People were angry, bitter, pushy, and mean. I did really like Dynah as a character, and I also really loved the character of Joe. Dynah was a beautiful character whom I felt was realistic. She ultimately comes to terms with her situation and makes a decision, and the ending did wrap up nicely. I just wish that the story would have reflected people better overall.


Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st CenturyAdvancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century by Richard M. Cash

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


My school district chose to use this book as a book study for the first half of the school year. We finished reading it on January 16th as part of our in-service day activities. Apparently, the author is coming to our in-service in February, so that's pretty neat. But ultimately, reading texts like this just leaves me feeling overwhelmed.

When you read a book like this the ideas are great and everything sounds wonderful, but that is in the ideal class, in the idea school district, in the ideal state....and I'm sorry, but NOWHERE is that perfect. Differentiation is important, and good teachers do it (or certainly try to!) every single day. But some days, it doesn't matter what I do as an educator, there are students who just aren't going to engage or "get" it. After awhile, the book deviated from differentiation and started discussing A LOT about teaching students how to think differently. That's nice and all, but it felt like the ways the author presented to go about it would just require time that we don't have! With the demands we have to not only teach our curriculum but to meet state requirements for testing and constantly testing students up until those tests, I just can't wrap my head around how things like this should work.

At one point during the reading of this text, I literally grabbed my pen and wrote, "Seriously? When are we supposed to do this?"

Needless to say, this wasn't the best professional development text I've ever read.


The Secret KeeperThe Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I really liked this book! I had read Kate Morton's "The Lake House" before, and while I liked that one, this book is way better! While there were confusing parts at times, they helped to move the story along and keep me guessing until pieces started to come together at the end. I can definitely say, the ending took me completely by surprise, and I liked that!


I've Got Your NumberI've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Sophie Kinsella never disappoints me. I borrowed this book as an eBook from my local library. I got an email that my loan was about to expire, and even though I was enjoying it, I just hadn't been putting a lot of time into reading. So I cracked down on Saturday (1/28) and finished it rather quickly! As usual, Kinsella creates a likable protagonist in Poppy. I love the craziness of the way the characters come together in this story, and it was just a light, easy read.



View all my reviews


In light of sneaking in an extra book this month that I didn't think I would actually finish until February, I decided to up my goal on the Goodreads challenge from 20 to 25.  If things keep going like this, I might even up it to 30.  I'm 5 books ahead of schedule right now, so I'm pretty proud of myself.  :)

What have you read so far in 2017? 

 
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