Building Sandcastles

Katelyn. our 10 ½ year old grand-niece visited recently. She is a loving girl who thinks deeply. Our family planned a day at the beach while she was here. In anticipation of the trip Katelyn told me she likes to build sandcastles, but not in the typical way with buckets and shovels. She described her method, but it all became much clearer to me when we were at the water’s edge.

katelyn sandShe digs a hole close to where the water laps the shore, allowing the hole to fill with water. Then she digs in and picks up a clump of wet sand. Moving to her sandcastle, just a short stretch away so it is out of the water, Katelyn slowly allows the goopy sand to drizzle out of her hand, creating odd shaped squiggles piled on top of one another. She continues to build it up until the water advances and washes it away, or it collapses on it’s own.

Right away she surveys the situation, digs a new hole and starts a new sandcastle. Then, she looks at me and says,

“Sometimes it gets wrecked, but that’s ok because it leaves a foundation to start the next one.”

Girl, are you really just 10 ½?  You just preached a message your grand-aunt needed to hear and I don’t think you even knew it.

Baseball and Words

If your family is like ours, stories come out of the woodwork when we gather together. This weekend we visited with Jerry’s family – his sister, brother and lots of extended family and friends. There are always a few golden oldie stories that you can count on being retold, here is one.

Jerry and his brother are baseball fans. In fact, as I write this they are on their way to a game. Jerry roots for the Detroit Tigers. Eric for the Cleveland Indians. Many softball-1354947_1920years ago tickets for the Indians games in Ohio were hard to get. Instead Eric bought tickets for the Indians away games in Oakland since we were living nearby.

Jerry and Eric offered me a ticket to join them. Not being as fanatical about baseball as they are, I chose to go only to the last day game of the stand. The guys were at the stadium the previous night for a game that went into extra innings –  lots of them (see how technical my baseball knowledge is?). So many extra innings that the game had to be called around 1 am. It was announced that the game would be finished as a double header with the next day’s game.

The brothers said they were two of about 200 fans left in the stadium when they exited in the wee hours to come home. Didn’t I say these guys are die-hard fans? Don’t even get me started on what they did when Cal Ripken was celebrated for showing up to work for 2,632 days.

Anyway, after the guys got some sleep the three of us headed down to the stadium. We watched the conclusion of the previous game and then moved into the new game. At the end of the first inning Eric looked at Jerry and said, “she has already kids-2782718_1920spoken more words in this one inning than we spoke in 13 innings last night!”


Good thing they love me, and I can laugh at myself. They still invite me to join them for baseball games, but more often than not I encourage them to go and enjoy their (quiet) time together.

Can you laugh at yourself?  It’s one of the best things Jerry and I do in our marriage. Do you have a favorite story that comes up when your family gets together?  I’d love to hear it!chalkboard-620316_1920


First Holiday Memories

We were married in November, so started the holiday season right after we got back from our honeymoon. I was excited to cook our first Thanksgiving meal and share it with my husband.

I got up early to make the stuffing and prep the turkey for roasting. I made everything I could from scratch. It was a long day but it was truly a labor of love. I set the table with our newly gifted china.  holiday-table-1926938_1920When everything was ready I called Jerry to the table.

We sat at the table laden with food, holding hands as Jerry offered our thanks back to God. He had barely completed the “amen” when I began to sob.

“Sweetheart what’s wrong?” he asked.

“I don’t feel good,” I cried.

Jerry asked me why I didn’t say anything earlier, or why I went to all the effort of the meal preparation that could have waited till I felt better.

“Because I wanted to make you a nice meal.”  And with that I crashed completely. I went to bed and curled up under the blankets while Jerry ate our first Thanksgiving alone.

I was so sick I couldn’t even get back up to put away the meal. Jerry called a friend who came and cleaned up the table, stashed away leftovers and washed all the dishes.

With this experience very fresh in my mind, the Christmas festivities began. This would be the first Christmas Jerry was not with his family. I wanted to bring a taste of home to his first west coast Christmas and do something special for him. I had heard Jerry and his family speak of Buckeyes, the candy type that look like the nut of the Buckeye tree. These were one of Jerry’s favorite treats, though I had never had one.

While Jerry was out I called his brother to ask how to make Buckeyes. He directed me to call Aunt Dollene, whom I had only met once. Of course she welcomed my call and gave me the recipe and explained to me how they should look when finished. I didn’t have all the exact ingredients she mentioned, but figured what I had could substitute sufficiently. Boy was I wrong!

74622_1723726333846_6721513_nWhen Jerry came home I was surrounded by sheets of parchment full of goopy peanut butter and chocolate puddles. I told him they were supposed to be Buckeyes. Somehow he contained his laughter and used a spoon to pick up some “California Buckeyes” and told me how good they tasted. They weren’t what he was used to, but he was grateful I made the effort. As the years went on I learned to use the correct ingredients and my Buckeyes came out as expected. Making Buckeyes has become part of our family traditions.


arrow-1538686_1920What are some of the holiday traditions that became part of your life through marriage?  I’d love to hear them, please share.  

Enjoy this simple recipe to try one of our favorite treats!

Buckeye recipe.


Give and Take

Happy Marriage Monday friends.

Now that we’ve been gathering together here for a couple months, I’d like to get your input.  I’ve put together a brief survey.  If you could take a couple minutes to complete it I would be so grateful and honored.  Just click here.  If you have other friends who you think could provide input please feel free to share the link.

In exchange for you giving me your thoughts, I’d like to share a tip with you.  Do you know that Regal Cinemas offers care attendants a free ticket when accompanying a person with a disability?  Simply tell them at the box office and they’ll only charge you for the person with the disability.  It makes going to the movies a more cost effective date.

Thanks for hanging out with me here.  And thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

Do you know of other discounts or freebies for Caregivers?  I hope to share a list of them in a future post, so send your ideas my way please. or comment below.

Once again, you can access the survey by clicking this link.

Have a great week, and share an extra long kiss with your spouse!

The Blessing of Disability in Marriage – Part 1

There is a lot of sadness and heaviness in our community and country this week.  I thought I would divide the post about the blessings of disability in marriage into two posts.  It may be good to take a little lighter look at those blessings this week.

What follows is a list I wrote very early into our marriage. I wrote it in part as a response to the many people who commented on how “special” I must be to marry Jerry. I think it was also a phase of life in which we were listening to David Letterman a lot, thus the Top Ten format.

The Top Ten Reasons to Marry a Man who uses a Wheelchair

10.  I don’t have to stand on tiptoes to fix his hair.

9.  You get great parking spots.

8.  You have its of fun gadgets to play with and exercise creativity as you learn to repair them.

7.  Sometimes you get to fly first-class instead of coach.

6.  Shopping is easier when you can hang the bags on his chair.

5.  The back of his clothing does not need repair or ironing.

4.  He provides free strength training and aerobic exercise.

3.  There are lots of places at home to hide things.

2.  The toilet seat is always down.

1.  Because He is created in the image of God to be my wonderful protector, encourager,   comforter, lover and friend.

If you would like this in a printable format with a frame, please click here.

Next Monday I will share additional blessings built off of reason number 1 above.  Until then, in your family what would be on your top ten list for your marriage?  I’d love it if you would share them in the comment section below.

The Games We Play

In honor of today (where he lives, tomorrow where I live) being my one and only nephew’s birthday, I share this memory.

The year Nathan was 10 he received a brand new bike as a Christmas gift.  He was in North Carolina, but because of his Dad’s influence from years in Washington, Nathan rooted for the Seattle Seahawks.  I was not a big football fan, but living in Denver Colorado at the time I became a Denver Broncos fan.  Phone calls (this was before Skype or FaceTime) often included some friendly chatter about our respective teams.

A couple days before Christmas I realized there was an opportunity I just could not miss. I gathered my supplies and went about creating a license plate for Nathan’s bike.  It was extra large on a bright orange background with bright blue lettering, “Bronco Fan #1”

bronco plate

When Nathan woke up Christmas morning and found a bike he was very excited.  As he made his way around the bike and saw the license plate proudly hanging on the back his face fell.  I think he probably said an exasperated, “Aunt Joan!” and quickly took the plate off his bike.

I thought that was the end of that; until I returned home after Christmas and unpacked my suitcase.  There amid my belongings was the Bronco license plate.

And so it began . . .

Sometimes we traded that plate back and forth a few times in the same year, other times  a couple years passed until one of us saw it again.  The unspoken rule has been to never get it back to the other the same way twice.  Over the years it has been found between the mattresses of a bed, attached to the back of a picture frame hanging on the wall, hanging from the mirror of a new car being picked up at the Dealer, hanging off the back of our van, in a file cabinet, and in so many more ways I can not recall now.

There even was a time when a”placebo plate” was created to make one think they were getting the plate as a gift, but it was not.

I had no idea those 25 years ago that little gift would become an icon in our relationship. I wish at the time we had the foresight to record on the back of the plate the places and times that license plate has traveled.

This evening Jerry asked me if it was time to pass this game on to Nathan’s oldest son Isaac.  Absolutely not.  I reminded Jerry that this has been and will continue to be for Nathan and me . . . until one of us is no longer around to play the game.

Wow, as I write that I realize this game has a longer history than my marriage.  But both will continue till death do us part!

Happy Birthday Nathan!  I love you more than the Denver Broncos!