The Spark:a mother’s story of nurturing genius by Kristine Barnett

The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing GeniusThe Spark. Finished 8-16-13, 3.5 stars, education/inspiration?, 250 pages, pub. 2013

Jake was never expected to talk or to read, but his mother never believed that.  After his autism diagnosis and standard therapies, she took things into her own hands to reach Jake and bring him out of his autism.  This is her story, and his.

There is a lot to like in this story of a mother’s love and a child’s gift.  Barnett was running a day care out of her home and was pregnant with her second child when Jake was diagnosed at 2.  He started some home therapy through the state and then early intervention preschool,  When a teacher told Barnett that her son would never need his alphabet flashcards that he loved so much, Barnett understood her meaning to be that he would never learn to read, and she pulled him out of school and kept him home with her.  The lengths she went to for her son are staggering as was her creativity and commitment to other kids like Jake.  She had a vision for Jake and for other autistic kids too.  And Jake himself is an inspiration.  This boy who was never expected to read now has an IQ higher than Einstein’s!  The Barnett’s pulled him out of elementary school to go to college at 9 and he’s on track to make great discoveries as an astrophysicist, thanks in large part to his mother who encouraged his love of space at a very age.  Here is the website for Jacob’s Place and more about Jake.

I must say that Barnett seemed to find more hours in her day than most people.  She ran a daycare during the day, a preschool prep class for autistic kids in the evening, raised three young kids and also started weekend sports league for autistic kids. Oh, and somewhere in there she managed to have another child and a stroke.  I am happy if I actually get dinner on the table for my two guys!

There were things that put me off a bit and I hesitate to go into them because it seems like I’d be making a judgment on this hero of a mother and I don’t want to do that because I think she’s amazing.  I’ll just note the one thing that Barnett herself talked about. I was shocked at how cavalier she was with money. Or maybe she was just blasé?  It was something that came up often in the book and it drove me a little nuts.

If you are looking to find a roadmap on how to raise a genius, forget it.  But if you want to be inspired to be better mother then this book will do the trick 🙂

This book was from my personal library.

Look, no quiz!

Yes, It’s Tuesday and I didn’t put up a quiz.  This week is a little nutty.  Orientation for one school was tonight, assessment for private swim lessons, meeting with the school district, and paperwork to be filled out for another school (my third set this week already)…I’m sure there’s more that’s slipping my mind right now.  Some of you may ask, and rightly so, isn’t Gage only 2?  Yes, yes, yes (sigh), I know. Too complicated to get into here, but he is so excited for school and I’ve been working all summer to find the best fit for him and I think we have at least half of it.  Anywho, look for a new quiz next week and don’t forget to check out the answers to last week’s best paid author quiz here.  I had fun seeing how you guys interpreted my one word hints 🙂

Oh yeah, and look at the booboo we got at the splash park on Saturday…never a dull moment.


Weekends with Gage and the Big Red Barn

brb1I knew that we’d be visiting the farm again so I decided to have Gage do a few activities to get him excited.  You can see the blue cow he painted in front. The pig he did next was much more refined but not nearly as much fun 🙂  And then I checked Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown out of the library.  Gage loved it!  He knew all of the animals and liked seeing the farm turn from daylight to nighttime, but his favorite page was the seeing the field mouse born in a field of corn.  I liked this book because it had lots of comparisons to introduce or practice (big/little) and counting, and friendship.  The illustrations and colors are perfect for a toddler who can handle more of a story in his picture book.  I don’t think this would be as appealing to kids under 2.

brbHere’s Gage reading the book on the way to the farm.  I know Wise’s book, Goodnight Moon is a classic, but Gage likes this one more than he ever did Goodnight Moon.  I was hoping to get in more farmish activities but the week got away from me.  Do you have any suggestions for next time?

I’ve already posted pics of Gage at the farm so instead I’m adding my favorite photo of the week.  This is Gage when we took him to ride a big new train.  Think he was excited? lodi train

Top Earning Authors Quiz – guessing closed

Every year I ask you to try and rank the authors by the amount of money they’ve made in the past year (I have my sources ;)).  I think it’s too tough that way so I’m switching it up a bit this year.  Good luck!

I hope that you’ll try your hand at my (mostly) bookish quizzes every week, but it’s okay if you just want to play when the quiz interests you. If you play you are eligible for a prize at the end of the round. For all of the details, click here. Submit your answers in the comment section – I will stop by and hide them throughout the week but try not to copy off anyone else :)  You have til Sunday to guess.

No need to know all the answers, one guess and you’ll be eligible for a prize. No Googling- this is for fun!

Choices-Danielle Steel, Jeff Kinney, James Patterson, EL James, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, John Grisham, Suzanne Collins, Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, JK Rowling, David Balducci, Bill O’Reilly, Rick Riordan, Dan Brown

My one word association for each author may not help you but it’ll be fun for me 🙂

1. Hot – EL James, $95m

2. Overrated – James Patterson $91m

3. Hungry – Suzanne Collins $55m

4.Gas-Bag- Bill O’Reilly $28m

5. Elegant – Danielle Steel $26m

6. Wimpy – Jeff Kinney  $24m

7. Tired – Janet Evanovich  $24m

8. Busy – Nora Roberts  $23m

9. Puzzler – Dan Brown  $22m

10. Master – Stephen King  $20m

11. Thrilling – Dean Koontz  $20m

12. Lawyerly – John Grisham  $18m

13. Solid – David Balducci  $15m

14. Mythological – Rick Riordan  $14m

15. Magical – JK Rowling $13m

Happy guessing! Answers to last week’s quiz here.  Leaderboard here.

Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain

Sweetheart (Sheridan and Lowell Series #2)Sweetheart. Finished August 11,2013, rating 2.5/5, thriller,

Book 2 of the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series (Book 1)

Oh, Archie. what a waste you’ve become.  You have good friends, a great family and a detective job that you are great at and you can only obsess about the one mistake you made.  Obsess and throw love back in the face of those who love you.  Your wife accepted that it would take time to heal, but she was there because she loved you.  Your kids are at that young age when having their dad around is so important.  Your best friend Henry who looks out for you and your family because you can’t or won’t do it yourself.  Susan,  who has a crush on you but is also a fan and friend, sees you at your worst and still accepts you.  These are all things that count.

Gretchen, serial killer/your abductor and tormentor, is difficult to accept.  You respect her and are hot for her, but it’s hard to see why.  She seems to get men to do exactly what she wants even locked up in a maximum security prison, especially you.  When you revealed your secret I understood your thing for Gretchen better, but after that your behavior ruined your story for me.  Might you redeem yourself in the next book?  I don’t know but I’m probably not going to find out and that’s a shame because I really liked your first story, the one where you were a real person.

You should thank your skilled storyteller, Chelsea, it’s her skilled writing that made your story readable.

This was from my personal library.

Weekends with Gage- the train obsession

train 1Gage has always loved trains but these past few weeks he can talk of little else. It’s his favorite thing at the library so I can usually peruse the picture books and watch him at the same time, knowing he is unlikely to stray from the tracks. So, we have a rotating train book collection. These three are our current train reading material.

We’ve had The Little Engine That Could for months.  Our library lets you renew things as long as no one else has requested it.  It was his first introduction to the train funnel.  This morning when  my mom went to wake him up he opened his eyes, looked over at her, and said ‘funnel’.  Yea, kid’s got trains on the brain.

My Little Train is a nighttime favorite for Gage.  Even though I have and do read it to him, he considers this Daddy’s book.  It’s cute.

I just picked up Freight Train last week and Grandma has already had to read it, oh maybe a few dozen times since she arrived on Thursday.

Today, I’ll be making another trip to the library to find some replacement train books.  Any good recommendations out there?

One more way we keep the addict addicted is to take him to the kiddie park every two weeks where he gets to choose from a half dozen rides, but his favorites remain the two train ones.  All aboard the crazy train! These pics are from last night.

train 3train 2



It’s a Baseball Quiz – guessing closed

I am not a baseball fan. I don’t mind attending the occasional game, but forget about me watching it on tv or caring enough to learn the names of the local team, the Cleveland Indians. Nevertheless, when Jason made me start watching a baseball movie, I realized that I’d actually seen and liked quite a few baseball movies over the years. Let’s see if you can guess my top 10…

I hope that you’ll try your hand at my (mostly) bookish quizzes every week, but it’s okay if you just want to play when the quiz interests you. If you play you are eligible for a prize at the end of the round. For all of the details, click here. Submit your answers in the comment section – I will stop by and hide them throughout the week but try not to copy off anyone else 🙂 You have til Sunday to guess.

No need to know all the answers, one guess and you’ll be eligible for a prize. No Googling 🙂

1. This Cleveland Indians comedy starring Charlie Sheen as Wild Thing. (1989)  Major League

2. Girl Power!  Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell had to take orders from the tobacco-spittle-producing Tom Hanks.(1992)  A League of Their Own

3. Loved this year’s story of Jackie Robinson. (2013)   42

4. Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Costner steamed up the screen in this minor league tale. (1988)  Bull Durham

5. “If you build it, he will come.” (1989)  Field of Dreams

6. (2002)  The Rookie

7. Two of my favorites, Keanu Reeves (don’t ask me why, I can’t explain it) and Diane Lane star in this one about an inner city little league.  Hardball

8. (1984)  The Natural

9. Bernie Mac goes back to the bigs at 47.  Mr. 3000

10. I have a feeling the one I’m currently watching will be moving up this list when I’m done.  It’s Clint Eastwood playing old and cranky like nobody’s business (yes, this applies to more than one of his movies.  Pick the one where he is a baseball scout). (2012)  Trouble with the Curve

Answers to last week’s George quiz here.

Weekends with Gage – a family friend goes off to college

When you live somewhere away from your extended family it is necessary and difficult to find babysitting help.  We were lucky that two sisters lived a few doors down from us when Gage was born.  The older sister left for college last year, and the younger one has been with us for over two years, these past seven months being times of change and stress around here.  She always showed up with a smile and allowed Jason and I to have a dinner date every week and worked with Gage to teach him all the things little boys need to know.  We will all miss her, she’s been a fixture around here and I’m not sure which one of us will miss her most.  She’s off to join her sister in Dayton and I’m sure she’ll have the time of her life.  As for me, I may have shed a tear or two.

with Gage in December 2011

with Gage in February 2012

brookeand her last day on Friday.

By George! Quiz – guessing closed

Yes, yes, I know,baby Prince George is old news, but let’s try a bookish and filmish quiz, okay?

I hope that you’ll try your hand at my (mostly) bookish quizzes every week, but it’s okay if you just want to play when the quiz interests you.  If you play you are eligible for a prize at the end of the round.  For all of the details, click here.  Submit your answers in the comment section – I will stop by and hide them throughout the week but try not to copy off anyone else :)   You have til Sunday to guess.

No need to know all the answers, one guess and you’ll be eligible for a prize.  No Googling :)

1. George R.R. Martin

2. George Clooney

3. Elizabeth George

4.Curious George

5. (Hey, he reads in the bathroom!) George Costanza

6. George Orwell

7. George C. Scott

8. George Carlin

9. George Will

10.George Bailey

And the tally of last weeks stained glass survey are here.

Drift by Jon McGoran, a GMO thriller

DriftDrift. Finished 8-4-13, rating 4.5/5, thriller, 384 pages, pub. 2013

When Philadelphia narcotics detective Doyle Carrick loses his mother and step-father within weeks of each other, he gains a twenty-day suspension for unprofessional behavior and instructions to lay low at the unfamiliar house he’s inherited in rural Pennsylvania.
Feeling restless and out of place, Doyle is surprised to find himself falling for his new neighbor, Nola Watkins, who’s under pressure to sell her organic farm to a large and mysterious development company. He’s more surprised to see high-powered drug dealers driving the small-town roads—dealers his bosses don’t want to hear about.
But when the drug bust Doyle’s been pushing for goes bad and the threats against Nola turn violent, Doyle begins to discover that what’s growing in the farmland around Philadelphia is much deadlier than anything he could have imagined . . .

from Goodreads

I was excited to read this one since having a son with allergies and food sensitivities has led me to be more vigilant about the food he eats.  I am no expert, but I know enough to be worried about the food we buy and put into our bodies without a thought.  An example, I was about to buy a jar of pickles, hoping Gage would like them.  I checked the back and high fructose corn syrup was the second ingredient and Yellow dye was the last.  Sigh.  I did not buy them.  Anyway, the point is that I think this is an important subject.  This book was about that a bit, but it really was about the evils far beyond a dye here or a preservative there, way more than I like to even consider even though I know it’s happening.  GMOs may seem harmless, but most don’t understand enough to be worried.  At least until after they read this book.

Doyle is a cop with more than nine lives since he used at least that many while on this suspension from his job.  His spidey senses knew something was going on in the farming community where his mother and stepmother left him their house.  They also left him a junkie boarder, but that was only one of Doyle’s many problems.  The local sheriff had it out for him as did the local thugs and he did have a funeral to get through, so why not take the time to develop a crush on the organic farmer across the road?  He was a busy man.

This is a first-rate thriller.  Yes, you may have to suspend your disbelief here and there and I wish that Doyle had have had a little more retrospect as the dead bodies piled up at his hands, BUT I was never bored and was always engaged.  I can actually see a series started here although I don’t know if that’s what McGoran has in mind.  I’ve seen a few compare Doyle to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and while I get the comparison Doyle is still a cop, not a renegade.  But the dead bodies do seem to follow both characters.

Highly recommend.

I am a happy participant in this TLC Book Tour 🙂  Check out what other bloggers have to say about this eco-thriller. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy.