Connecting with Word Games #VZBoston #VZWBuzz #ad

Disclosure: As a Verizon #VZWBuzz #VZBoston Lifestyle Blogger I’m a member of a pretty cool team of influencers who share information about mobile living. I was provided a device at no charge and compensation for my participation. There has been no editing by a third party, nor any promise of positive feedback. All opinions are my own.

I have always loved words. And…I talk a lot, read a lot, and even used to read the dictionary for fun. Oh, yes. Word games, crossword puzzles and jumbles (the Boston Herald’s best feature) are a blast. My (ahem) slightly competitive family used Scrabble® to pry me away from a book (Monopoly® just didn’t have the same appeal) by saying something about needing another player – not because I had mad skills or anything.

And while I love words, I am sorely lacking in strategy skills – yes, even very young children can beat me at checkers and chess is quite out of the question. So maybe I should hone those dormant skills? Good idea, but how? Well, while playing on, I mean, researching the features of, my Motorola Droid phone,  I discovered a ton of fun word games in Google Play. Hmmm…games…games with strategy?

Words With Friends – I had forgotten how much I like this game and rediscovering it meant reconnecting with friends and family members. Sign in through Facebook, and friends who already play are listed, you can invite friends, and there are also community matches. My game is a little rusty and, as previously confessed, short on strategy, but it’s fun to play and find obscure words that somehow glean the most points. Added bonus – you can write notes back and forth during your matches. Love the tag line “May the Best Friend Win”. Free.



Classic Words is a great game you can play solo if it’s not your turn (and maybe you are tired of waiting). Don’t be a nudge, play a round of Classic Words. You play the computer and the response time is super fast and a great way to hone your skills for when it is your turn.




The oh-so-aptly named Word Crack. Seriously, yesterday I had to put the phone in another room so I could get some work done. But then I pretend it’s good brain training to stave off the aging process, and it’s free. So, it’s all good.




aa – which you would think is about words but isn’t – it just looks like it. This is another good game for keeping the brain refreshed and strategy (yes, it appears random but there is a timing sequence to this – just try it once or twice and you’ll get it. Also free. There are also tons of strategy games if you click on the chess piece (I haven’t advanced to those yet).



The best place to find even more words …in Books (here’s the list of free books). Since the PBS show, Sherlock, does not come back for awhile – I’m reading (and in some cases re-reading) the Arthur Conan Doyle books to hold me over until the next season. I might also revisit some Bronte and Dickens – this is a great way to reconnect with old friends in books or to read some classics that you think you should have read already.



Of course, an even better place to connect with friends is in real life, and last week we did just that when a group of us got together at the Verizon Destination Store (745 Boylston Street, Boston) to play another favorite game…The Amazing Race!

A group of bloggers and their families signed up as teams but I was solo (the family was in all directions that day), so I gave a shout out for a teammate. The intrepid, and always fun, Lollie Weeks (The Fortuitous Housewife), bravely volunteered, and the impossibly incredible Kim Tolander (KimWorld) volunteered to be our virtual teammate for moral support.

It was cold, it was snowy, but we were excited! We were handed our assignments, a team number (15) and red bandanas for team spirit. Our task? To take group selfies at locations throughout the Back Bay and get back to 745 Boylston Street first.

Challenge accepted!  We grabbed a pic in the well-stocked Selfie Booth (and tried out an awesome selfie stick) in the very cool Verizon Store and then hit the streets. I have to credit my fast-moving partner for absolutely booking it from place to place – she didn’t even stop to add a description to our Instagram pics but spoke into her phone while we were running!

Despite incredibly stiff competition (really the times were only a minute apart) – Team 15 won! We ran into friends along the course and back at 745 Boylston Street, too – What a fast-paced adventure! The we explored the different areas of the store – playing with music at the Amplify It zone and trying out games at the Having Fun zone. There was so much more to do but Lollie and I had more running around to do! We made a coffee and tech date with Kim and we’re heading back soon.

Thank you, Verizon, for a super fun day with friends both old and new, and a chance to explore the new Boston Verizon Destination Store.



Post BlogHer Post


Well, I am back from a whirlwind weekend away at the blogging conference that is BlogHer and I haven’t written until now. It takes a lot of work to step out of our lives for even a little while, and while it is easier for me than for a mom with young ones, it was still challenging. I had (first time) sleep away camp to prep for (she packed herself while I was away – well, with help from Dad) and only forgot one thing which I actually had in the car. By the seat of my pants, I tell you.

Here is the thing, I started this post days ago and have hesitated to hit publish because I wasn’t expressing the over-riding feeling I have had from BlogHer. Gratitude. Exhaustion and Gratitude.

Sometimes I have a gratitude problem. It is true. Many of us do. It is easy to criticize, to correct, to suggest ways to improve on something (and I have plenty of suggestions for the organizers, if they care to ask), but here is the main takeaway:

I am lucky that I could go – it is an expensive trip and lucky that my family is supportive.

I learned things (about blogs, social media, conferences, expectations, how to present myself, how to give an elevator pitch).

I met interesting, kind and generous people willing to share their knowledge and experience at the sessions, on the expo floor, in a cab, in a restaurant. Everywhere.

I got to travel in a Blogher Bound bus (Thank you, McDonald’s) to an exciting place that I love and don’t get to often enough.

I won prizes. What? Prizes, you say? Yes. Prizes. Like what? Let me say that as a Blogher newbie, I didn’t even know there would be prizes. I had heard about the swag but really had no idea that it was anything and certainly not why I went.

But, what did I win? A $100 Best Buy gift certificate. I was walking down from the suites on the 42nd floor (TMobile, Hershey’s) because the elevators were so very busy when I got the call and I didn’t realize the expo floor was closing. By the time I got there, the super nice rep from Best Buy was alone in the almost empty hall waiting for me to claim my prize. So nice! Above and beyond, Best Buy! Thank you!

I also won a folding bicycle (a very sweet ride from Gotham Bike) from the lovely people at Advil for taking part in their scavenger hunt. It is really cool and I can’t wait for it to get here! I’ll take my own pictures when it arrives, and I think it has already been claimed by my children.

I got a ride with McDonald’s on their bus bound for BlogHer and learned more about them, and that was really nice. Thank you, McDonald’s.

More, yes, there is more. A $25 Pet Smart Gift card, and some Lysol products. bags, pens, notepads and zip drives. Am I done? Kind of. The stuff wasn’t why I went to Blogher but it’s what I tally when I get back. That and the stack of business cards I am still puzzling over (I did not write on them as I was advised to do. Next time I will).

I met people from Newton, Needham, Boston, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, California and Canada. I enjoyed every conversation and meeting. I had two breakfasts on Friday, the one for newbies and one with McDonald’s. Here is a link to Honest and Truly blog and a transcript of the Question & Answer session at breakfast. I got a recharge massage at TMobile (their tech stuff is awesome).

I went to Getting Gorgeous, had my hair straightened (thank you, GG and CVS, and I love my Extracare card) and it held up in the humidity, and have some more great stuff there. Okay, I’ll share! Super cute dark wash boot leg jeans from Coldwater Creek that make me look smaller than I am, a pair of gorgeous shoes from Naturalizer, and a gift card from Diet Pepsi! There is more but I think that may be another post.

So…Blogher in NYC. Huge. Overwhelming. Loud. Crowded. Busy. Both the city and the conference, so imagine them combined. I like the chaos for a while (as the oldest of five, it is my natural state of being) but then I need a break which I took in the form of a run through Central Park on Saturday morning.central park imagine strwaberry fields nyc manhattan capability mom blog

It was wonderful to connect with bloggers from Boston Parent Bloggers some I met for the first time on the BlogHer Bound bus. We had plenty of laughs (especially at the rest area where seven other buses stopped at the same time, yes, I said seven) and we got to know a little bit about each other, and found out we shared some connections other than blogging (even though that would have been enough). I had a Martha’s Vineyard connection with one super nice, grounded blogger and learned about more about Kegels than I ever thought I would know), talked to another BPB Blogger who is running the Falmouth Road Race to benefit the Melanoma Foundation of New England (something I am into, too) and I met someone who is funnier than I am (it is rare because I think I’m really funny – ask my family).

Once we got there, it was super crowded and chaotic. The elevators were jammed and it didn’t help that FFaNY was in the building (all the rooms on our floor were shoe showrooms except for ours and one across the hall). What a confluence that could have been. Women with sore feet and 14 stories above people selling shoes. Next time, FFaNY, bring shoes to sell. Seriously. Twitter was full of people looking for other shoes because they only packed cute heels.

But I digress. The conference proper is kind of hard to tease out of the side events. While it was great to meet so many people with a shared interest in blogging, writing and playing nicely with social media, it it does seem like it should be easier to find and schedule things.

One of the sessions was so overcrowded (so great that so many people wanted to learn about turning posts into published essays) that I stood against a wall trying to find enough air to breathe, never mind trying to take notes. I think PhD in Parenting was there,too, but couldn’t confirm. That was my main celebrity sighting* and I’m not even sure it was her. I may have been lightheaded from lack of air.

As always, NYC is a great destination and there could never be enough city love time. I wish that some events were “off campus”, as in not in the Hilton (as nice as it is). It is a shame to not explore such a fabulous city.

Pragmatic Mom and I found a great local restaurant (Thank you, Hilton concierge) and had a wonderful dinner where we met some lovely shoe people from FFaNY. We may even have a shoe giveaway with them – Stay tuned!

Best things about BlogHer? The people, the sessions (although they need a better system), the location (more recess time needed if you are in the city), and the sponsors are interesting and varied, which is always good. I saw Advil, Clorox, Lysol, CVS, Verizon, Best Buy, Disney Jr, Poise, Dannon, Samsung and so many more. I’ll go into it later or this will be the longest post ever.

I liked connecting with people, brands, bloggers, seeing new things, learning something new (so like Martha), trying something new, and sharing it all. Did I love every minute? No, I am no Pollyanna. Some things were size and location related, some easy fixes, some more complicated. If you really want to know, comment below! I promise to share and even over share!

*Correction – I did get to see Jeannie Mai, host of The Style Network’s “How Do I Look?” She looked great. I was in a button down and a pencil skirt. Ehh.

Lest this post makes it sound like I was careening hither and yon getting swag, I was not. I went through the Expo Hall and stopped at booths where I engaged in a dialogue with brand representatives and happened to get lucky. I found great new finds and will write about them when I sort through the bag of note and paper…too much paper!

Verizon Fios works for me

Hard to believe but true, we did not have cable for a really long time. Yes, some formative years were spent in front of PBS not because it is awesome (which it is) but because nothing else was on.  Don’t get me wrong, I love television for, among other things, PBS, old movies, and Oprah. Although we were reading, playing musical instruments and having family game nights – we did watch television – just bad television. Then a renovation prompted an upgrade. Did I mind? No, thorough researcher that I am, I got to work. I started with a Q and A with engineer and gadget fan, my father, then polled (informally, I am not a crank) friends and family. I also did a little online research and compared the available options. Verizon Fios won across the board for reliability, speed, ease of use, and features  – so now I have Verizon for everything – phone, tv, internet and wireless. I have only had great customer service experience from Fios. They even have something called In-Home Agent (a 24/7 DIY troubleshooting tool)  – so good that I actually tweeted about it – and now there is a widget for Twitter from Fios – super fun and easy to use. My personal favorite is the weather widget – check it out here – very cool.

What do I like best? My DVR – seriously.  Now we record programs that we want to see later  (Modern Family and Glee are weekly must-sees) and I also love that you can start movie in one room and finish watching it in another.  Yes, sometimes there is jockeying for the big TV. We have also figured out the app that lets you use an iPod as a remote control – pretty cool – so far no battles between the remotes but I am sure that it is only a matter time.

Since I have started working (and it is mostly computer work), I need a really fast connection speed. I am also a little bit (read huge understatement) impatient and hate to wait for anything. It makes a huge difference not to have to wait for downloads for photos – I am super efficient – mostly due to connection speed…grin. Not only that, but the whole family can access the internet through our wireless network at the same time – no slow down at peak times (huge!) which makes homework time a lot easier, too, and you know I am all for that.

New(ish) for us is Flex view which is a cool feature that lets you rent or buy a movie once but watch it on different computers or mobile devices.  I like having the option of being able to watch a movie on the iPod touch or laptop (or the television). All you do is bookmark the chosen movie or movies and then you are good to go – so easy! Love that. I’ll love it even more when I have an iPhone (subtle hints are my specialty).

All in all, we are thrilled with Verizon Fios…after the mudroom, it is the best thing about the renovation.


I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Verizon
FiOS sponsored blogging program. Any views, opinions or experiences
expressed are my own.

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