The Candy Shop War 2: Devoured!

The Arcade Catastrophe (The Candy Shop War, #2)The Arcade Catastrophe by Brandon Mull

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


First off, we all know how much I am in love with purple, so the cover itself was intriguing. The artwork is quality and fun, and the purple clinches it for me. And no, I'm not kidding. We really shouldn't judge books by their covers, but we all do it. And this quick judgment was spot on.

If you liked The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull, you will enjoy its sequel Arcade Catastrophe even more. The level of intrigue and creativity is pushed farther taking the story in surprising directions.

According to my 13-year old, "The characters have better powers than in the first one." Who needs more motivation to get reading than that, right? Just so you know, he devoured the book in three school days.

In honor of Halloween and Book Appreciation next week, I have a giveaway running on my blog for one copy of The Candy Shop War: Arcade Catastrophe beginning 10/31/2012 and ending 11/7/2012.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I received one ARC of The Candy Shop War: Arcade Catastrophe by Brandon Mull in exchange for this review.



View all my reviews

China Doll

Walking into the room of loved ones
Standing, sitting, crying, hugging,
An unexpected warmth touched upon,
Brushed my skin and entered my heart
Never to part for it changed me.

Embracing my aching, dying-inside friend

Love, this great love, growing
As our souls communicate even still.
Reintroduced to her darling angel
Once again reminded of the brevity
Of time given us on Earth.

Looking at this dear, sweet child
At rest finally, at peace eternally
Her rosy cheeks and ivory reflection
Showed how lovely life will be
When we are no longer china dolls
But Celestial beings.

Reaching toward understanding,
She teaches me how to love and appreciate
Every moment, every fragile memory.
I look forward to expressing my deep gratitude
To my friend, grown and in all her glory, resplendent.



In loving memory of Sofia

related links:

An Angel Has Flown

My Hope For Eternity


Emotional Responsibility

A family member recently taught me a great lesson in three words: Take emotional responsibility.

I have been seeking peace and happiness for long time, and, all the while, have not been very successful at finding it. I used to blame much of my unhappiness on my situation. Much of the rest, I owe to my big fat mouth. Now I am caught in a freakish sort of limbo. Life is changing drastically. My situation is morphing into something new with increasing opportunities for enjoying the peace I seek, along with unforeseen situations that can only be cast aside emotionally if I am to find a way to be happy despite them. Then, we add in a dash or two of misunderstandings, bad communications, developing relationships, and other life occurrences. I don't know which way to turn some days. I want to be happy but there are so many challenges to face and issues to work out that it gets overwhelming, even dizzying. I can hardly see where I'm going.

Yet, what I can see is the thing that gets me through my day—my desire to learn how to live happy. I might go about it in the most ridiculous and painful manner yet recorded, but I am going to figure this thing out. One  day at a time, I will learn to take emotional responsibility and just freakin' be happy no matter what.



P.S. In case you're wondering why this is posted on Monday and not Tuesday, it is due to Hurricane Sandy and wanting to participate in the SOLSC community that is slicing early in anticipation of the storm.


Video Killed The Purple Lady

I am learning how to create instructional videos in order to enhance my abilities as a future teacher, and I had the opportunity of hunching over my computer whilst fighting back the beasts all day so I could finish this baby up on time. It is not perfect and that fact kills me; however, I believe it is a decent start. I will be proud of the brilliant concept and my work ethic. I have really struggled lately to keep my focus and finish pretty much anything in a timely manner, so I feel somewhat accomplished right now.

I hope you might watch my video, leave some feedback, and if you like it, share it.

growth chart

Letting out the hem on scout uniform pants tells the story of how fast a boy grows...

Whimsically Irrational

Awhile back, my BFF wrote a story about us and I want to share this funny with you. I hope you get a good laugh out of it like I did.

Savvy and Sage: Wiseguy Wednesday - Irrational Fish Fear: "I discovered I scream the same way whether I'm about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot." –Kev...

Carpe Diem

Electricity fills the air. Nervousness and awkward chatter competes with the desire to get dancing like oppositely charged magnets. Then, the instructor calls out that it's Girl's Choice--the reverse of what typically  happens. She heard the words, but somehow it didn't register because she is conditioned to having to wait for someone to choose her. It wouldn't be so bad except it's not like in Phys. Ed. class when someone gets picked last--they still get on a team. A few extra females, in this scenario, means you must start the dance rotations alone. Talk about demoralizing.

Being in a daze, she nearly missed this window of opportunity. Caught like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming Mack truck, she was. Stunned. No excuses about how sexist it is that guys always choose. Nothing to blame except not seizing the opportunity if she didn't have a dance partner.

Then, a flash of realization wakes her up. Girl's Choice. She looks around her to see that most people have paired up.

Hurry!

Dude, where is a guy?!

I do NOT want to dance by myself again!

[looks down disappointedly]

[sees the guy she had been talking with still sitting]

-- Steve, would you like to dance?

Nonchalantly, he says sure, not realizing how he rescued her from herself--not realizing how she had just seized the day.



Why Blog?

I got started with this whole blog thing because I went to a Publisher's Fair seeking out answers on how to get traditionally published and everyone kept asking me if I had a blog. I opened up this can of worms around a year prior to that fair, but had only done one post (The First Purple Thing). So, the next day I got to work and here we are now.

I had written a few chapters for the book I was working on and was hopeful, but I never counted on this. The blogosphere and twitterverse welcomed me and my writing with open, even beckoning, arms. I could not be more pleased with the results of reaching out into the unknown to see how what I have to offer would be received.

In the shuffle of my separation and the continuing divorce issues, I lost those chapters for the book I want to write. It is sad because I don't know if I can ever recall the words, but I have something even more valuable to me now: the ability to share my thoughts in meaningful ways on a daily basis.

Since All Things Purple's inception, my life has changed a great deal. I have changed more than I anticipated. My dearest hope for publication now will be to get a poetry book out into the world with my byline scrawled across the cover. I still wish to write the book trapped within this heart, but becoming an authentic, published poet has been a dream of mine for over twenty years. 

I didn't know it when I began this adventure, but I blog to explore and find all that I can become.

enough



As you wrote your lovely words, 
I was beyond confounded by their power
Over me. This muse has deferred 
The time, until I sleep, on which to shower
Me with dreams of love and peace
Where he whom I have yet to meet
Laugh and talk and become friends.
All of which unavoidably sends
Me in a wishful state of memory,
Wanting companionship divine
Knowing the time is not arrived.
Yet yearning for it desperately
--slippery--
Out of my grasp for now.

As I wake, the lasting wisps of your 
Enchanting grace wash out
The cobwebs of my lingering fears. 
I am enlivened and unafraid,
Ready for all that comes today.
My darling muse of a friend,
I owe you to no end
For wiping away even unshed tears,
Showing me I am enough, 
That I deserve everything, and more.


Ramblings On Writing

I allow myself to write the dream or nightmare versions of my reality, whichever more aptly reflects my own perception. I believe there are many truths and that they come to us in layers we experience as we are able to handle them. Whether in the depths of sadness or the heights of happiness, I let myself feel everything I ever could in a situation even if I cannot act on it. I'm not sure how mentally healthy this practice is but I find my words this way. This happens often while writing poetry; however, you must know there is always an element of truth in the words I let slip past my pen. Not necessarily factual truth, but wishful, hopeful, or fantastical notions of truth--what could be if that reality were reality. 

Every once in awhile I wonder if the words I write hurt or help those with whom they converse. Do my words get good thinking going or do people just become ponderous and depressed? Most of what I receive is positive praise, yet I am left wondering--who came, read, and walked away with displeasure but didn't want to take the time to say anything? Now that is just overthinking things. I really must stop doing that. 

So anyways. It means the world to me that what I write has found a vehicle in which to explore the world and for the world to come for a visit. 


Fighting to Breathe

Ready to get on the gloves
Working toward something special
Something so lovely it could be fragile
This elusive journey of love
Taking me through life
Living for a glimpse of it
Risking my heart as payment
There is always a price
Conditioning for a chance to win
Handing over the future
As I enter the ring
Looking back--
I have always been a winner
Always able to get through the count
With the wind knocked out of me
I am fighting to breathe
Ready for another round

I shall overcome.

We're gonna party like it's 1999...



My van reached a huge milestone this past weekend. It hit the 199,999 mark, so it needs to be celebrated. Most people I have talked with feel worried for my van's mortal existence at this point, but I want to recognize how blessed my family has been by having such a good, reliable vehicle to get us around.

It has been with us since Monkey #3 was a baby, moved us and a few other families, hauled rock a couple times (don't ask), been to the drive-in, gone up and around its fair share of canyons and mountains for drives and camping trips, taken us on numerous trips including Disneyland, and most importantly, carted us all around town for groceries, healthcare visits, and the all important late night treat run.

I am truly grateful to have a good, running vehicle. Every single mile before and after this is a blessing from heaven, and I refuse to mourn its loss until I must. 

related link:

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly






not ready but waiting

A few weeks ago, a friend said something quite profound to me.

We were discussing how ever-increasingly difficult life has been since my marriage began to fall apart several years ago and how it all seems terribly endless. I allowed myself to open up, talking about some of my inner thoughts. I cried (quite unabashedly, I might add, which makes me feel embarrassed just to think about). I recognized my desire for healthy companionship, someone to really love me. And that is when he said the difficult yet real things:
You wouldn't want that someone to be here right now. Things are a mess. You're not ready. You wouldn't want that person to have to deal with this.
It made me pause to think. The truth of it all sunk in deeply almost instantly, and I continue to ponder on how things are a mess and how I am not ready to give my whole self to someone else. I can wish I would be able to handle it already, but it just isn't so.

There is a great deal more I need to do before the time will be right. The divorce is still dragging on for one thing. That is pretty much the big hang up. Limbo looks and feels like hell at the moment. I can hardly keep my chin up for more than a day or two in a row with all the indecision and negativity surrounding the situation.

I have to admit this loneliness is pervasive. I didn't count on it, and so I have been forced to recognize how much I adore companionship. I don't necessarily want or need something serious right now, but I hope someone will find me when the time is right and that I might make some beautiful friendships along the way.

One thing I know for sure—my friend was right. I don't want my someone to deal with this. I care about whoever he is too much already to want him here sooner than when things will be able to work out—whenever that may be.


Awesome Autism Blog



As a blogger and parent of children with disabilities (ADHD counts even if the federal government won't offer services for it), I currently follow several blogs concerning the daily challenges faced by parents of intellectually disabled children. I address special needs issues from time to time on my own blog as well. So, since I am immersed in this SpEd world, I want to share some of my insights gleaned from a particular blog: Yeah. Good Times.

I wouldn’t normally read a blog so faithfully that has such heavy doses of swearing, etc. throughout its pages, but this mom has a way about her that is endearing. I came to be acquainted with Jill through Twitter and it was all over from there. Her honest wit charmed me.

First and foremost, Jill is a great example of advocacy and loving the child no matter what—even when it was just said (wrote on a blog for the world to read) how much a behavior and all its entails might drive her mad.  I have learned a great deal about what it means to step up to the advocacy plate that I did not realize people have had to go through. Don't get me wrong, I've had my fair share of messed up situations to deal with, but I only had my experiences from which to draw until meeting up with Ms. Jill.

My perspective has also been enlightened on what I have tolerated but probably should not; hence, I have changed my stance on when and when not to say something to those who obviously do not have children with a disability.  Along with parental discernment, more than once her words have guided me to understand some of the teaching concepts I am learning as an educator. I believe I will be a more capable general education teacher because of how she has enriched my views and understanding of what parents go through each day to help their child feel successful in the school environment. 

Her unfettered display of humanity provides a sense of community for which I am grateful. Being a parent of children with special needs can be challenging because we get feeling so alone and isolated unless we find/create a circle of support. I have joined in her online community a few times, and when I had a rough spot (Heartbreak Hotel: Lunchroom Edition), she put the word out and her community came to me. I felt so blessed in my misery. Her taking that bit of time to share my words caused a wave of encouragement that continues on.

By reading blogs, such as Yeah. Good Times., I have been able to raise my level of awareness when I didn’t think I could raise it any higher. 

Pro Tip:
If swearing and drunkenness is offensive to you, just scan past those parts like I do and you still get all the benefits of her wit and wisdom. She is decidedly worth it.

Sweet 16

The special birthday banner that goes up for everyone's birthday.

Cupcakes by Darcy
Monkey Business at the Candy Bar

words

I need them to keep going
Writing and talking and typing
Used, manipulated, celebrated
They are my friend 
They are my enemy
At times, I lose them
Or, rather, they run away
Escaping from reality
Not able to inspire
--Sometimes--
Cutting, biting, binding
Into life they go
Without a thought to how
The impression will impact
Lives with a fervor
Even a debilitating fever,
At times, suffocating
The ability to care
Most times, enabling
The ability to ensnare
Lovers, friends, foes
Captivating with a line
Of recognizable woes
Enchanting with a string
Of most fantastical kinds
Of amorous things
Actions speak louder than these
Yet, they find their way in
Nestling in hidden passageways
Waiting, wanting 
To spring forth at opportune times
Wishes are more wishful
Tears are made more bitter
Fear is given flight
When life is dark
Reminding us all 
That without them
We would barely exist.
Without them
I would not have 
Discovered you, 
Love.


Aunts

Aunts are a unique breed of human. I think they are the only people in this existence who can scare you to death and make you love them to pieces at different stages in life or even all at the same time. I have a few aunts who fit this description.

Because I didn't see them as often as some other family members, these particular aunts were mysterious to me. I loved their smiles and the hugs they would give. One aunt I had only met once as a child, getting to know her more through the letters her daughter would write to me as we developed a pen pal bond as cousins. Since I didn't know these women very well, they were a type of stranger to me--beloved strangers.  Any attention they gave me as I was growing up was decidedly memorable, yet I never thought they would be so important to me later on in life...

Now, today, these mysterious creatures are heaven sent angels. Each of them provides me with portions of love I never thought replaceable once my mother left the world. They have this way of listening, providing just the right advice balanced with affection and wisdom. These aunts show me, by example, how to be. How to be a woman. How to be good. How to love.

As I am an aunt myself, I hope one day my nieces and nephews might consider me a mysteriously scary yet lovingly wise influence in their lives.

Seeking to Become - October 2012



As we move into autumn and winter, the thought of comfort foods and holidays draws me in and makes me want to seek shelter. There are many kinds of shelter to be after: a physical home, arms of a loved one, a listening ear, invested friendships. All of these provide shelter in the form of comfort if they are sound sources. An ever-trustworthy source of comforting shelter is our God the Father, as well as his son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. They provide the example from whence we should draw as we strive to comfort those around us.

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 


It seems as if we all have our turn at being down, yet somehow there is always someone there to lift and to bless us. This thought brings me to introspection about whether or not I take my turn lifting others when I ought to. How long is the lag between when I am able and when I purposefully seek out those who need the boost that I could give them?

I am certain I receive comfort oftener than I provide it. As the month progresses, I will seek to become more like our Exemplar and comfort others as He comforts me. I hope you will join in this effort to be a safe shelter, even a comforter in troubled times.  



Heartbreak Hotel: Lunchroom Edition

I was volunteering at the high school yesterday for my teaching stuff and got to walk in on the last of lunch time with my daughter who has Autism. She was sitting alone. Most of her life skills classmates were standing along a nearby wall hanging out and talking, but she wasn't. She was just sitting there--alone--people-watching. Part of this situation can be attributed to the fact that she doesn't know how to insert herself into conversations/groups. She always waits for an invitation. The other part is something I just don't know how to discuss without stepping on people's feelings; however, her solitary existence struck my heart as I approached the table, and I must say something.  

I was unprepared for the deluge of emotion that overcame me. Questions and tears. Disappointment. Wishing for so much more for this precious child of mine. I don't understand why no one would want to sit with her. She is sweet and kind. To be more specific, she truly knows no guile--only purely honest simplicity of heart and being.  She can't talk much but if you just sit by her she'll tell you how pretty or cool your shirt is, give you a mini back rub, and work so hard to say something--anything. Why wouldn't someone who knows her from classes or church think to befriend her? Why wouldn't those individuals have an empathetic response? Would they like being alone at lunch time?

I think it begins at home. Why don't more people talk to their children about inclusion of those with disabilities? Do they not see my daughter and others like her as children of God too? Why is it so difficult when it really could be simple? She is simple. She doesn't ask for anything whatsoever. All that would be required is whatever they would give.

A lot of what I have heard is that people feel uncomfortable because they don't know what to say to someone who can't respond typically or that they are afraid of the autistic behaviors--such as personal space boundaries, etc. Let's be honest: sometimes it is awkward; sometimes it is weird. But who cares? EVERYONE has done awkward, strange things within their lifetime. It's just all piled together for years on end with Autism. All that really needs to happen is for people to recognize a disabled person's humanity and compassion and empathy would come. I just know it.

And you know what else? It really doesn't take that much effort to bring your group of friends over to sit with someone who doesn't comprehend much of what you're saying, laughs at all your jokes (even if they aren't very funny), and, to top it all off, you never have any risk of them gossiping about you behind your back because she doesn't know how. I would say that's a steal of a friend. A real bargain. A treasure beyond price.

This mother's heart cannot comprehend this at all.

related link:

Wanted: Awareness, Respect, Acceptance

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trapped

Trapped
Within a world continually whirling 'round
Without a thought to how I'll stay upon its ride
Up and down and never even keel
Awaking to every day the same
Trapped by a perfect dream of a nightmare
Starved, emotionally gaunt
Unable to run or hide or fight
Caged, hemmed in tight
Yearning for a rest from want
Wanting to be free
Needing to reconcile
Rejection of rejection drawing nigh
Love shall come and so it does...

With every whistling fever falls a
Token of my split in pieces heart
Like a crumbling sample cookie
Handed out in the grocery store
Given too freely
Taken for granted
Savored for a moment
And then never given time
Never provided a chance
To truly accept all the offering
Would be divinely inviting
A proof that possibilities
Lie imprisoned, even
Trapped

if only...

Time would stop standing still.
Looks didn't kill.
You could let yourself imagine.
I could lead you by the hand.
Love wasn't such a game of risk.
We weren't proximity-challenged.
You hadn't said those words I wanted to hear.
I hadn't wished and willed them into your heart.


dance magic

She entered the ballroom ready to dance, well, mostly ready.

Before leaving her house she spent two hours preparing: makeup enough to make an artist blush—even midnight blue eyeshadow of all things--along with a bouncy black and white skirt, a purple shirt and a black ruffly overlay of a blouse for dramatic loveliness, and a gorgeously large purple flower for on the side of her pinned down and up curls. Velvet and satin black heels would be perfect for the fox-trot, she thought to herself, and then whisked away out the door after grabbing them.

Music was playing, pleasantly filling up the space between the dancers. She could feel the nervous energy, but did not succumb to it—yet. After practicing with non-partner after non-partner, courage and even the ever-elusive confidence took shelter in her heart. Dancing electrifies and enlivens this wounded warrior queen. She is ready.

But then, her name is called for next up and mistakes begin to be the norm. Stepped upon toes of the darling sweetheart brave soul who didn't refuse when I asked him to test with me twenty minutes before my test, immediate nervous sweat response which is highly unattractive, and the giggles (because I get all smarty pants when I'm nervous) set in hard and fast. It was near immediate after the instructor called. And before catching even one good breath, he called for the test. And I couldn't breathe to save my life.

Red and ready to run, I went in with faux confidence—remembering to look away from my partner as if he weren't pushing me around the floor in an elegantly physical adventure.

And I did it. I danced the fox-trot on the ballroom floor in a way that resembled what I had imagined myself doing. It was pure magic.



i {heart} bicycles

Today must be conquer the bike day.

As I was walking from the parking lot to my first class, I heard someone speak and so, naturally, I turned my head to see who/where it came from. There was a cyclist right up on me. So anyways, I guess I move defensively when caught off guard. The girl and the bike ended up going into the bushes. I felt badly and apologized, telling her how grateful I am there were bushes there for her to land in instead of hitting the pavement. I mean, what else could I say? I really was thankful I didn't knock her into the fence or worse--cause her to crash into the pavement.

The cyclist got her bearings and rode past the person in front of me. Once out of sight, the other pedestrian turned and said Wow! Now you know you can hold your own against a bike! I didn't think about how I could have been injured if I hadn't moved so defensively. I ended up standing my ground instead of getting run down. Just call me The Purple Ninja.

My next adventure with bikes has to do with my Indoor Cycling (aka Spin) class. I don't know if I've told you yet or not, but I really thought I might die from bike-itis when I first began this adventure called Spin class. I thought if I could ride a bike I can do Spin. No. It does NOT work like that. Spin does something worse than just riding a bike--you add a very bossy (I mean lovely and encouraging) instructor telling you to make your muscles burn and to push it up a notch when your legs feel like the muscles might start detaching from the bone.  And I am not exaggerating. I could not walk for two days without wanting to cry after my first time going.

With all that said, my pace has had to be a notch slower and lower than the rest of the class. For example, instead of breaking my legs by standing and riding a bike for two or three minutes at a time, I would stand for thirty seconds and sit for thirty seconds (or longer) and so on. However, today I decided to see how far I could push myself in order to measure my progress since it has been a month from when I  began this exercise in self-torture. And I am happy to report that I, whose legs were not made for standing up while riding a bicycle, made it through several 2 and 3-minute long standing intervals with only one 15-second break during a 40-minute workout. I am astonished at this feat of nature I have performed.

Now that I am a bike conquering ninja, I think I might be able to face pretty much anything.