Worth the read: Dragon Watch by Brandon Mull

Between, writing, editing, and proofing I spend a lot of time looking at words on a daily basis, so reading for fun is often a struggle anymore. If a book doesn’t grab me from the onset, we’re talking the first five pages—I’m sorry—I just don’t have the patience for it to finally get good. Sadly, I could probably swim in the amount of books that I’ve started in the last year and didn’t finish. So, when my husband told me Brandon Mull had added onto his Fablehaven series, I actually feared picking up the available books. I loved the Fablehaven series, and didn’t want those memories tainted by the critical eye that I’ve developed over the last five years. But my husband wouldn’t let it go, so after months of bugging I gave in and cracked that first book open.

Wow. What an excellent read. Brandon Mull continues to do a great job of blending old characters into new situations. He packs tons of action into his novel, which would keep any mid-grade age boy on the edge of their seat. But even inside that action he adds perfect touches of description that help a reader imagine for themselves the world in which this story takes place. I’m so grateful that book one Dragon Watch and book two Wrath of the Dragon King didn’t disappoint. A story so engaging they’re a fast read. It’s definitely a worthy sequel to the original Fablehaven series. But if you haven’t read the Fablehaven series you’ll want the start there first to understand the plot tie-ins from previous adventures. No boring backstory in these books, he just forges ahead, so you’ll want to prepare yourself.

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When it comes to hardships…think nibbles rather than mouthfuls

When life crashes down hard on you, and you feel like the mounting struggle is smothering you, I used to have a tendency to think that barreling through all of it at once was the only way to survive. After all, it makes sense that if we just get through it faster it will be over quicker, right?

It’s taken years to alter this initial response in myself, but I’ve discovered this kind of thinking often only exacerbates the issue rather than eases the burden I’m under. Because, even if I somehow manage to lift that boulder squishing me, it’s still a boulder on my shoulders that has to be dealt with.

The problems we face often have many facets, or issues intertwined. Trying to deal with them all lump together can be on overwhelming prospect for anyone. But, if you work through one thread at a time, those struggles become a little easier to face. Sure, there’s still a good-sized lump left to work through, but chipping away at problems are less exhaustive than trying to overcome them all at once. And trust me—life doesn’t ever stop throwing you problems, so you’re going to want to pace yourself. The good news—every victory, no matter how small, will give you an extra shot of strength to keep on fighting.

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I promise you won’t die if you put technology down

Life is all about finding balance, and when you’re a parent, you get to help your kids find balance too. Technology is one of those areas I feel I’m constantly harping on my kids about. Yes, smartphones, tablets, and the endless apps they use, can be helpful tools. But if they’re glued to your hands 24/7, you now have a problem.

Life, real life, doesn’t happen inside those screens. Spending too much time there pulls you away from the necessary physical interactions that connect you with the people around you. Without these interactions, feelings of isolation can grow. A disconnect that can easily lead any person toward depression.

Stop the cycle. Make a concerted effort to put the technology away and interact with those around you more often. The joy you will find by doing so is well worth the pain of separation you might feel at first for peeling the smartphone from your hands.

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Age has given me a whole new perspective on my favorite childhood novel, “Weekend of Fear.”

I did it—I finally reached the age of where I did nothing but walk around in tennis shoes but still managed to hurt myself.

Over the weekend, I enjoyed the rare sunshine for a morning of yard work. I putted around, painting gates, thinning dead branches, even fertilizing the lawn. Not once did I move faster than a leisurely walk.

Once done, I went into the house and took off my shoes. When my bare left foot stepped down it felt like the blade of a knife went right up into the arch of my foot. I crumpled to the ground at the excruciating pain, but nothing showed on the bottom of my foot, not a bruise or goat head thorn—nothing. I even had my husband take a look. My foot looked fine to him. My foot doesn’t care—it still hurts like the dickens. I’m afraid of what ten more years will bring, if all it takes is a little yard work now to bring me to my knees.

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One final gift for mom

My oldest son graduates from high school this week. Part of me is still trying to grapple with this fact, while the other half of me not in denial is crying. Where did the time go?

On the other hand, I’m excited to see where he goes from here. Once you graduate high school, what you do next is really up to you. It’s the best part about being an adult—you get to control the path your life will take.

I’m glad he lives up to the work ethic his father and I have taught him. He’s proven time and time again, that he’s not afraid to work hard. This fact alone comforts me. No matter what struggles he faces, he has the internal tools to work through them.

His last gift to me from high school is the metal gates you see below. Over the years he’s created many items for me from both wood and metal, but this one was my personal request. One that took longer than it should because I kept making other metal request along the way this year. What can I say, the boy is talented and I couldn’t help abusing it. Thank you for the gift I’ll cherish forever.

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Change your focus, change your stress level

Life comes with many demands beyond the goals we set for ourselves, which don’t lessen with time, but rather multiples with every passing year. Focusing too broadly on all the things that need to be done can stress out even the most organized. If you learn how to narrow your focus into smaller chunks or steps that are easier to conquer in your day-to-day living, you’ll be amazed at what you accomplish when you take the time to reflect back on where you started. But the key is not looking up at the massive mountain ahead of you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your life, there’s a good chance that you’re doing just that. My advice; look at the few feet in front of you instead. Believe me, tomorrow will always be there and world will keep spinning even if you couldn’t get it all done today.

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Our very own Ripley’s Believe It Or Not moment

I’ve had the explainable happen only a few times in my life. Every time one of these instances occurs, the strength of my there-must-always-be-a-possible-explanation flies out the window.

Two weeks ago our family was enjoying our yearly Christmas vacation. Yes, this year it happened in April, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Anyway, my husband woke up the first night and discovered his wedding ring gone. Not he-left-it-on-the-nightstand-gone, we’re talking it-has-never-left-his-hand-for-almost-twenty-years gone.

For the entire week we searched the room at least once a day. We stripped the bed, looked in every piece of luggage we brought, ran our fingers under every piece of furniture we could not lift. It was gone!

On the last day of our vacation I finally convinced my husband we needed to move on and just buy him another ring. Our twenty-year anniversary was coming up in May. After living with me that long, he definitely deserved another ring. And jewelry in the Caribbean is way cheaper than the states, so it was best to pull the trigger now rather than wait. Of course the jewelry store didn’t have his size so we filled out a shipping form to have it sent to us.

After being home more than a week, my husband went into a coughing fit in the middle of the night. This happens a lot around here so the cough drops are always flowing. He reached inside the bag to pull out a cough drop, but his fingers felt something weird. To his amazement, he pulled out his ring. Yes, I had that bag of cough drops on the trip, but I never left it lying around. I kept it tucked in my travel purse the whole time. My kids swear they didn’t touch the ring. I know I didn’t. My husband would have never let me buy him another ring if he had found it and put it there. So how in the world did that ring end up there? I. Have. No. Idea… Fairies?

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