Sunday, November 29, 2009

Book Review - A Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers II by Colleen Sell

A Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers II A Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers II by Colleen Sell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you adore dogs and enjoy a light easy read, then this book is for you. A Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers II is a collection of short stories and essays that celebrate man's best friend, the dog. From heroic acts to plain silliness, these stories reflect the devotion we have for our four-legged friends and their unwavering love for us.

This is a heartfelt collection of fifty stories, well written by various authors, and edited by Colleen Sell. Some of the stories are serious, even sentimental, and others humorous, but they all share the magical ingredient of a dog’s devotion. This is a truly enjoyable collection of short stories.

While all the stories were good, a special acknowledgment goes to Susan H. Miller for her story, The Dachshund That (Almost) Conquered the World. Susan is a friend and fellow member of the Humble Fiction Café writers group. Her writing style and stories are an inspiration and joy to read.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Service Project - Cookies and Goodnight

Like most everyone I know, I've donated items, helped with food drives, and contributed monetarily to worthwhile causes. I've very proudly espoused my daughters' service endeavors too, like Locks of Love ponytail donations and Lake Houston cleanup efforts. But this most recent event gave me a very meaningful one-on-one experience of handing the “gift” directly to the recipient.

Our Brownie Girl Scout troop recently participated in a program called “Cookies and Goodnight” at the Star of Hope in Houston. The Star of Hope is a Christ-centered mission dedicated to the homeless. They offer a comprehensive approach to addressing both immediate (food/shelter) and long-term (education/employment) issues of the homeless. “Cookies and Goodnight” is a program whereby volunteers provide an evening snack for the residents living at their Transitional Living Center.

Because we volunteered and served on a Saturday, there were many residents absent on weekend passes. Others were attending classes, so we didn’t have the expected 250 or so residents show up for the evening snack. What we did have though was a tremendously grateful and appreciative group of mostly mothers and children.

The “thanks” we heard were sincere and plentiful. These people so appreciated our cookies and milk, some of them coming up and asking for a second serving. Something so simple meant so much to them, and it made me mindful of my own abundance and blessings.

As we gather together with family and friends across the country this Thursday to celebrate and give thanks, let us not forget those less fortunate. I’m glad to have participated in this program, particularly that my kids were able to share the experience, and I look forward to my next service opportunity. Happy Thanksgiving! What are some of your most meaningful volunteer experiences?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Review - Green by Ted Dekker

IE: GREEN: Book Zero: The Beginning and the End GREEN: Book Zero: The Beginning and the End by Ted Dekker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What originally appealed to me about Green by Ted Dekker was that this book could be read either first or last in its series. Called the Circle Series, Green is both the beginning and the end; it is Book Zero.

Green is a Christian fantasy story, set in both present day 21st century and 2000 years into the future, a time when good and evil manifests itself in the physical. Thomas Hunter is leader of The Circle, a peace loving people who worship Elyon and faithfully await his return. However, dissent and impatience stirs in The Circle, and there are those who wish to put peace aside, take up their swords, and defeat the evil Horde. Thomas’ own son, Samuel, leads these rebels into a worldwide calamity.

Ted Dekker paints a world where the imagery is vivid, both the beauty and color of good, and the dark, horrific detail of evil. Green is a fast-paced, exciting read, only it left me wanting more. I especially wanted to know more about the characters and their motivations, and as such, wonder if it isn’t best read as the final book in the series.

In any case, I highly recommend Green for those interested in suspense or fantasy, or who like me, are looking for entertaining and good christian fiction. Enjoy the book trailer too...

This was my first Ted Dekker book, but it won’t be my last. I look forward to reading the other books of this series. Let me know in the comments if you have read any Ted Dekker books and your thoughts on this series.

I am a Thomas Nelson book review blogger.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More on Social Networking and it's Effects on People and Kids

Recently I posted about the best age for kids to get involved with social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and myspace. I linked to some articles that cited concerns that internet usage at a young age could be damaging to kids' abilities to relate to others. However, I am pleased to read this article from Read Write Web about a survey that says quite the opposite.

Good Bloggers Make Good Neighbors, New Survey Shows

While the article isn't age specific, it is heartening to know we bloggers and social networking folks are good at heart and ready to lend a helping hand.

What do you think? Social networking - good for relating to others or bad?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Family Fun at the Texas Renaissance Festival

This past weekend my family and I attended the Texas Renaissance Festival in Plantersville, TX. According to their website, it is one of the nation's largest and most acclaimed renaissance theme parks. I believe it, although I can only compare it to King Richard's Faire in Carver, MA, as these are the only two renaissance theme parks I have visited. Both are a blast!

Expensive though, the price rivals a Disney park. However, when I asked the kids later which they enjoyed more, the renaissance festival or Disney World, the answer was a resounding, "I don't know."

So, there you have it. The Texas Renaissance Festival offers a fun-filled day of excitement and pretend, royalty and peasants, entertainment and shopping, and more. And it's a day that rivals Disney World in family fun (but not all attractions and shows are necessarily kid-friendly at the festival).

I sure hope we make the Texas Renaissance Festival an annual tradition!

BTW - The crowds were sparse this year compared to prior visits and I wonder if that was due to the weather or the economy?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Making the Most of Your Parent-Teacher Conference

Having just completed a parent-teacher conference, these tips are fresh in mind to help make the most of your conference time.
  • First off - go. I've heard some parents claim they do not need to have a parent-teacher conference because their child is doing so well in school. It may be true that you won't have a lot to talk about then, but not going at all sends the wrong message to the kids (and their teachers). Schooling your children is a joint effort between teacher and parents, so at the least, the parent needs to show up.
  • Talk to your kids first. Find out if they are experiencing any problems at school, whether it be in the classroom or outside, or if they have any questions or concerns.
  • Make a list. Write down questions you want to ask the teacher as you think of them and prior to the conference, then take the list with you. The teacher has set aside this time to talk to you specifically, so make sure you get all your questions answered.
  • Be on time. I can't tell you how many times I've had to wait for my conference because the teacher was behind schedule. This is usually due to someone being late for a conference earlier in the day, setting the whole schedule behind.
  • Make an action plan if necessary. Make sure you leave the conference with a clear understanding of any action you need to take at home to reinforce your child's learning at school.
Like most of us, teachers are busier than ever. Planning in advance will help maximize your time, as well as the teacher's, helping to ensure the best education for your child.

What are some of the things you do to prepare for a parent-teacher conference?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book Review - Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

For those of you interested in a business book review and discussion on Social Media, please visit New Business Pipeline where I recently posted my review of Groundswell, winning in a world transformed by social technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. Here is the link.

Social Media Effects on Filling the Pipeline « New Business Pipeline

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kids and Social Networking - What's the Right Age?

Although social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have reported flattened growth (perhaps due to more choices and users getting picky), there is no doubt that social networking is flourishing. Just like the telephone changed the world, followed by email, now we have numerous more ways to connect and communicate.

Most social networking sites have minimum age requirements for setting up a profile. Facebook requires it's users to be 13 years old, and MySpace has similar requirements. But more and more users are ignoring those requirements and setting up profiles at younger ages.

So what's a parent to do? My own kids ask about opening an account. I tell them they need to wait until they meet the minimum age requirements, all the while their friends are socializing on these sites. I figure there must be reasoning behind the minimum age requirements, but is there? Is there some inherent risk to having a Facebook profile that is no longer prevalent when the child turns 13?

Here are some interesting articles on social media growth and statistics, and kids usage of these networking sites.

STATS: Facebook and Twitter’s Growth Flattens

Social Networking -

Social networks and kids: How young is too young? -

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.