Big Boggle Quiz

Do you remember Boggle? I went out to buy the game and discovered Big Boggle, who knew?  Here’s how to play…Words are formed from adjoining letters.  (You may not skip over letters) Letters must be in the proper sequence to spell a word.  They may join horizontally, vertically, or diagonally to the left, right or up-and-down.  No letter cube may be used more than once in a single word.

No proper nouns, abbreviations, contradictions, hyphenated or foreign words.

Scoring-Make up to 25 words with at least 3 letters.  If someone else makes the same word you will still get one point.  If you are the only one to find a word you will score how many letters are in that word.

Bonus-There is an author’s name (first and last name connected).  Find it for 25 points.

I love Boggle and have already made my list of 25 words (I admit, I mainly went for the big ones).  The more people who play the more fun it is.  Spread the word 🙂

Still not sure how to play? watch this video 

Sundays with Gage- Finally, a diagnosis

So, last Valentine’s Day Gage was admitted to the ER, put on a ventilator, and transferred downtown to the Cleveland Clinic (my detailed post here).  After a week of testing we were sent home with no answers, just a long list of what it wasn’t.  Another trip to the ER in July confirmed to me (and Jason) that it was a milk allergy even though no pediatrician or specialist agreed with us.  We decided to keep him off dairy until he was a year and half or two hoping he would outgrow whatever it was.

But here’s the thing.  Even though I thought it was a milk related issue, the fact that not one of the dozen or so doctors thought so made me think I was wrong.  Which has made this a stressful year.  Every sniffle or cough had me expecting the worst.  It has made me a bit of a crazy mother.

On his 15 month check up I told Gage’s pediatrician that I wanted him to see an allergy specialist before we let him try eggs and then milk again.  She pointed out that his blood test had been negative and this appointment would really be just to make me feel better.  Despite her (expected) lukewarm response I made the appointment.  And do you know what?  I do feel better.

Within an hour they diagnosed him with FPIES (Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome)

Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome is a rare, severe food allergy of the gut. Classic symptoms to this allergy are delayed following food ingestion (~2hrs or more) and include profound vomiting (often to bile), diarrhea and dehydration. These symptoms can quickly lead to lethargy, change in body temperature and blood pressure, and in severe cases, sepsis-like shock. Immediate medical attention is needed for IV hydration and monitoring.

Finally.  A doctor finally listened, understood and diagnosed almost immediately.  There is no medical test to confirm, but every thing that is described in the pages of information happened to Gage and not one doctor caught it.  It is a rare condition.  We went to a large office and he said they only see 2-3 cases a year.

We still had the skin test done for eggs, peanuts, and shellfish and unfortunately, the peanut tested positive.  See…

So, the good news, we finally have answers about last year’s nightmare and I can stop wondering if every fever will point to a scary disease.  I finally feel validated in my concerns.  More good news?  FPIES is a condition that always corrects itself.  The literature says that by 3 years old 60% of children outgrow it, keep your fingers crossed for Gage.  The not-so-good news is the only way to confirm diagnosis or to see if Gage is better is to book him into Intensive Care and give him milk.  And then wait the rest of the day to see if something happens.  Not something we plan on doing anytime soon.

We are now armed with long-waited-for answers and an epi pen for the peanut allergy. I know he will outgrow at least one of these.  I can live with that.

I’m hoping that this upcoming Valentine’s Day will have a happier ending 🙂

A special thank you to Bonnie (Redlady’s Reading Room) who gave me the great allergist recommendation.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, by Caroline Preston

The Scrapbook of Frankie PrattFinished 1-26-12, rating 4/5, scrapbook novel?, 240 pages, pub. 2011

In 1920 Frankie graduates from high school and she is given a scrapbook and her dead father’s old typewriter.  That scrapbook is this novel. Using vintage postcards, letters, swatches, etc., Frankie is able to document her story as she attends Vassar, moves to New York and then to Paris.  She is also able to use captions to tell of her many relationships and make us care about her story.

I liked Frankie immensely and over the few years this novel covered she had many stories to tell.  She came in contact with the wealthy families at Vassar (she was there on scholarship) as well as self-proclaimed spinsters looking for adventure.  She also met the likes of Edna St. Vincent Millay and James Joyce.  Frankie was a girl living in up in the 1920’s.

I was so impressed with the creativity of this book.  I love the fact that Preston thought outside the box and found a new way to tell a story.  The pages were beautiful and fun to look at.  I was surprised at how easily I was drawn in and captivated by the scrapbook.  At the beginning I was taking my time looking over each page but as the story progressed I found myself turning the pages faster and I had to force myself to slow down.

I loved this charming book and think it would be one that you would pick up from time to time to look at the memorabilia that Preston has collected.

I don’t usually watch book trailers but I thought this unique book was served well by it.

I borrowed this from my library.

Without Fail, by Lee Child

Without Fail (Jack Reacher Series #6)Finished 1-24-12, rating 4.5/5, thriller, 549 pages, pub. 2002

Jack Reacher series, Book 6 (Book 1) (Book 2) (Book 3) (Book 4) (Book 5)

“A handshake isn’t enough,” she said.  “You’re going to do it for us.”  Then she paused.  “And you were nearly my brother-in-law.”

He said nothing.  Just nodded and shuffled out from behind the table and glanced back once.  Then he headed up the stairs and out to the street.  Her perfume was on his hand.  He walked around to the cabaret lounge and left a note for his friends in their dressing room.  Then he headed out to the highway, with ten whole days to find a way to kill the fourth-best-protected person on the planet.

Chapter 1 

Series Main Character– Jack Reacher.  Many series have a main character or two and many recurring characters.  This series only needs one, loner extraordinaire, Reacher.  He’s a badass.  He makes his way around the country righting wrongs and fighting injustices.  He doesn’t have a home, an ATM card, close friends, but he does have a heart and lots of confidence.  He’s retired military police so he knows his stuff and his talents and he is not afraid to give into his baser instincts for vengeance.  Oh, and he absurdly attractive to women.  Me included.

Story– His dead brother’s ex-girlfriend works for the Secret Service and she is in charge of  protecting the Vice President elect.  When he begins receiving death threats, Froelich tracks down Reacher to help her figure out if they could do it.  Reacher brings in an old military friend, Neagley and the two of them start tracking the would be assassins.

How it stacks up-This is right up there with the best of the series so far.  I love good political intrigue and this was a fun look inside the Secret Service.  The pseudo history with Froelich and the comfortable friendship with Neagley made this one more appealing than some of the others.

Who should be reading this series– A must read for anyone who likes a great fast-paced thriller.

This was from my personal library.

One Day Quiz – guessing closed

How much can you accomplish in one day?  Twenty-four hours goes by pretty quick, but these books and movies seem to have a way to slow down time.  The photos are all of movies, just tell me which one.

You have until noon Saturday to submit your answers as a comment.  Comment will be hidden until I post the answers.  No Googling, but feel free to use anything on hand – like an in-class quiz 🙂 

This round will last til the end of March.  The person with the most points will win a B&N gift card (total $ based on # of total participants, so please play) and a randomly selected participant will win a fun prize from me.

Have fun and Good Luck!

1. This very long classic tome follows a day in the life of Leo Bloom.  Ulysses – James Joyce

2.  Twelve Angry Men (1957)

3. This post WWI classic follows the life of Clarissa Dalloway.    Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

4.  Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

5. This recent YA bestseller follows Clay around as he listens to tapes made by Hannah Baker, who recently committed suicide.  13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

6.  Do the Right Thing (1989)

7. This day-of-the-week book follows a London neurosurgeon on his daily routine.  Saturday by Ian McEwan

8.  A Night at the Museum 2

9. Ebenezer has a complete change of heart between night and morning. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

10.  Bobby (2006)

Details and Leaderboard here.  Last week’s Scholarly Author Quiz here.

Sundays with Gage – Retirement means more Grandma

So, how do you make sure a woman will LOVE her surprise retirement party and not just wish everyone would get out of her house?  Make sure she sees her only grandson first thing.

My mom officially retired before Christmas but with it being a busy time of year we decided to wait until this weekend to surprise her (and my dad) with a party at their house.  A fun time was had by all, even if the retiree everyone was there to congratulate was over an hour late due to a very busy restaurant.  My aunt and uncle were anxiously watching my dad eat steak while we were all munching away back at the house.

So, what does this retirement mean for Gage?  Way more time with Grandma.  She still lives over 2 hours away, but the visits will be more frequent.  Win for Gage, win for Grandma, and a win for Mom.

Book vs. Movie – The Secret Life of Bees

Last time I compared The Shining (post and the still open poll here) and this time I am comparing one of my favorite books and a new movie favorite.  My Secret Life of Bees review from 2009 is here. This is going to be a close call.

The Story/Plot  This is really a coming of age story for Lily, who has the burden of her mother’s death on her shoulders as well as feeling unloved by her father.  Both the movie and the book portrayed that.  They were so close in storytelling that the few differences from the two, Lily and Zach at the movies and the Sunday church services at the pink house, were not enough to make me choose either one.  Tie

The Visual  I thought the movie brought this story to life beautifully.  I loved seeing the richness of the south and especially liked seeing the beekeeping on screen.  I only wish there had been more of it.  Thumbs up-Movie

Characters vs. Actors  I love Queen Latifah and thought she was a great choice for August.  Actually all of the actresses were great.  The only one that didn’t really match my mind’s view was Rosaleen but the actress was fine.  Withe that being said, I loved the characters in the book and felt a much deeper connection with Lily in the book.  Tie

The Ending  The movie had a hollywood ending.  It was fine, but I prefer the slight messiness of the book.  Thumbs Up-Book

And the winner is…I’m giving a very slight edge to the book, but I think both were excellent.

Now it’s your turn to vote

Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on: (We Have Always Lived in the Castle) (Good Morning, Midnight/ The Midnight Sky) (Before I Go To Sleep) (The Little Prince) (Charlie St. Cloud) (Far From the Madding Crowd(The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting)  (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)

Posed for Murder, by Meredith Cole

Posed for MurderFinished 1-11-12, rating 3.5/5, mystery, 242 pages, pub. 2009

Lydia wondered how long it took before all traces of a person disappeared.  Perhaps it was when there were no longer events where people expected someone’s presence, and that person began to cease to exist even in memory.

Chapter 10

What happens in a nutshell- Lydia is a photographer and on the opening night of her first show a murderer targets one of her models.  The models all portray dead girls of unsolved crimes and Lydia worries that one murder is just the beginning. (B&N review here)

What I liked– The gritty struggle of trying to survive in New York as an artist provided a great back drop to this mystery.  I also love the premise of a killer recreating photos of murdered women that were already recreations.  Confused?   Don’t be, it worked.

What was just okay– I didn’t think the killer was all that surprising.  Lydia herself felt distant to me so I was never turning pages as fast as I could to see what would happen next.  Maybe it would have been better in first person?  Maybe not, but I usually like mysteries and thrillers best when told in first person, so that could just be my bias.

The verdict– I liked it but didn’t love it.  But what do I know?  It did win the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition.

This was from my personal library.


Scholarly Authors Quiz – guessing closed

Last week’s quiz was just too easy, so this week it’s all about educated guesses.  Match these authors with what they studied in college. 8 points each.

You have until noon Saturday to submit your answers as a comment.  Comment will be hidden until I post the answers.  No Googling!

This round starts today and will last til the end of March.  The person with the most points will win a B&N gift card (total $ based on # of total participants, so please play) and a randomly selected participant will win a fun prize from me.

Have fun and Good Luck!

1. John Grisham        C. Accounting

2. Stephen King          E. English

3. Jean Auel                A. Business Administration

4. David Baldacci       D. Law

5. Michael Connelly    G. Journalism

6. Anne Tyler               K. Russian Studies

7. JK Rowling              I. French

8. Nicholas Sparks     L. Business/Finance

9. Norman Mailer       F. Aeronautical Engineering

10. Barbara Kingsolver    H. Biology

11. Elizabeth Peters      J. Egyptology

12. Danielle Steel           B. Literature & Fashion Design

Details and Leaderboard here.  Last week’s Hero Quiz here.

A Book with Gage – Off to Class by Susan Hughes

Does Gage look ready for school? I earned my English Education degree from Ohio State, but never really put it to use.  I was a substitute in the DC area for awhile and it was a good match for working in the library, and I hope my teacher training will help when Gage starts school.  I really want him to love school and learning.  Anyway, I agreed to review this book because it interested the educator in me.

Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the WorldOff to Class:Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes

5 Stars!  I cannot recommend this book enough!  In my excitement did I forget to tell you what it was about?  Most of you reading this will have gone to school the traditional way-public or private schools with classrooms and teachers and tests and clocks.  What if you lived in the middle of the rainforest or in the mountains of Nepal?  What if your school was washed away by a hurricane or crumbled by an earthquake.  How would you learn?  This book, by highlighting 23 different schools in 14 countries, shows in beautiful pictures and words how very different cultures live and look at life and learning.

A few of the most unusual schools were the boat school in Bangladesh (the school travels to them during monsoon season), the solar school in the middle of the Amazon rain forest where there was no electricity or phones and access takes 40 hours by speedboat, the green school in Canada that does produce any waste that doesn’t go in the compost, the four child school in Iran, and the traveling school that teaches  the Evenks in Siberia as they are constantly on the move herding reindeer.

The schools are interesting, but the inspiration behind these schools is what sets this book apart.   Most of these schools were set up by someone who saw a need, a person just like you or me, and then found the funding and local help to make it happen.  These schools are there because people believe that everyone, no matter what caste, gender, or location deserves an education.  One university student saw a need for street kids in Columbia to learn so he set up cart schools to take to the kids where they lived and earned a living.  One student’s vision led to countless forgotten kids learning how to read, add, and take care of their bodies.

The layout really adds to the enjoyment of the book.  Each school has a two page spread, with lots of pictures, details, and facts about students around the world.  I think this would be perfect for any library and for any student who complains about going to school.  Recommended for ages 8 and older, but I was completely captivated by it.

This book was generously sent to me by Owl Kids.