From the monthly archives: May 2011

Maria woke from a deep sleep with her daughter Jill shaking her and yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! There’s a box hanging from the ceiling. What is it?”

She stumbled out of bed saying, “What are you talking about?” as she followed her daughter downstairs to the living room.

Sure enough, suspended from the ceiling was a mysterious-looking box. It was about eighteen inches square and wrapped in shiny tin foil. It looked like something from outer space!

“Don’t . . . touch . . . the . . . box . . . !” They looked around at the sound of Dad’s booming voice as he repeated, “Don’t touch the box please.” By now Jill’s two sisters had also come down to the living room and Dad just looked at each of them, smiled, and said “Don’t touch the box.”

Maria walked over to him with a quizzical look on her face and whispered, “Fred, what’s going on? What’s this box?” He just looked her in the eye and said, “Under no circumstances is anyone to touch that box.”

One day passed, then another, then another until the box had been hanging from the ceiling in the living room for four days. Maria and the girls were going crazy wondering what was in it and, more importantly, who was it for? Deductive reasoning proved that no one’s birthday was coming, it certainly wasn’t Valentine’s Day or a wedding anniversary. Christmas was six months away. What could it be?

The excitement grew until finally, on the morning of the fifth day, Dad said, “I have an announcement to make . . . tonight someone in this room will open the box.”

That evening with everyone gathered in the living room, Dad reached over, took the box in his hand and carefully cut the four wires which were holding it in suspension. He handed it to Jill, asking her to unwrap the tin foil from the box. When she had completed that, he took the box from her and handed it to his next oldest daughter, Rachel, and asked her to remove the box which was taped around another package.

The suspense continuing to build, Rachel unveiled a cylindrical object that Dad took from her and handed to his oldest daughter, Becky, asking her to open it. Inside she revealed a small gift-wrapped package with a red velvet ribbon.

Fred picked up the box and handed it to Maria saying, “Happy Anniversary Sweetheart”.

“What are you talking about Fred?” she said, “This isn’t our anniversary. Our anniversary isn’t for three months!”

Fred walked over and put his arms around her, saying, “Actually dear, this IS our anniversary. Ten years ago today you walked into the little store where I was working. That’s when I first saw you and that’s when I first fell in love with you.”

Grinning from ear to ear in surprise and pleasure, Maria opened the box to find a beautiful pair of star sapphire earrings.


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Buying an engagement ring for my girlfriend Jenna was a bit overwhelming for me since I had never bought jewelry of any type for anyone. Once accomplished I was feeling quite proud of myself until the jeweler said to me, “How do you plan to give it to her?”

“Yikes!”, I thought, “Don’t you just drop on one knee and say ‘will you marry me?’ or something like that?”

“Well, gosh, I don’t know. Any good suggestions?” I asked aloud.

What my terrific jeweler suggested to me was so much fun and surprised Jenna so well that I wish I could do it all over again! Here’s what I did:

I found a restaurant  I knew Jenna would love.  It had just the cozy atmosphere that she goes crazy over.  When we arrived I asked to be seated outdoors. We had a very nice lunch and a glass of good wine, taking our time as we enjoyed the beautiful day together.

After lunch I suggested dessert and Jenna did her “Oh no, don’t tempt me honey” thing. She was okay with me ordering something though so we asked the waitress to bring the dessert tray.

The waitress presented the huge tray with a flourish. It was filled with a large variety of desserts, but in the center of the tray was a beautifully painted ceramic plate that called out to Jenna just as I hoped it would.

Jenna reached out, pulled her hand back with a guilty look at me, then said, “Oh, what the heck! You only live once!” and picked up a chocolate torte.

As she ate her torte, the decoration of  the plate became more visible.  Suddenly she could see her name, then the words “Will You Marry Me?” carefully painted on the personalized plate. As she looked down at the plate then back up at me, I took the beautiful engagement ring out of my pocket.  Her face lit up like I’d never seen it before as she reached out to take my hand. “Yes, Yes, Yes” she laughed.

Heck I didn’t even have to ask!


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On a family trip to Chicago to celebrate mom’s sixtieth birthday, she fell in love with an American Girl doll. She had always wanted a fancy doll but her parents were never able to afford one for her when she was a girl.   It was silly she said, as all her girls were grown and there were no granddaughters to pay so much for a doll.  After all, she was all grown up.

After we were back at the hotel, Dad disappeared and went back to pick out the doll Mom had admired and hid it in the car before coming back to the room.

The next day we celebrated mom’s birthday and our whole family waited in anticipation to see Mom’s reaction when she saw her dolls.  We hovered close as Dad sat smugly watching in the background. Mom slowly unwrapped the package and exclaimed with pure pleasure when she saw the beautiful dolls wrapped so delicately in the box.

Pulling one doll from its box, Mom gave it a hug and then held her out at arm’s length for further inspection. Suddenly, she pulled the doll back close to her face very quickly and then looked up at my father with such a look of surprise we couldn’t figure out what was going on! “Let us see, Mom” we all begged.

She turned the doll slowly around, the whole time looking at my father with tears in her eyes, and there around the doll’s neck was a spectacular diamond necklace, the likes of which I don’t think Mom ever thought she would own.

Mom wears that beautiful necklace every day, and every night it rests on her favorite doll.

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I will never forget my first Mother’s Day . . . breakfast in bed complete with a rose in a bud vase, waited on hand and foot all day, dinner out . . . you name it I had it. Now that’s what Mother’s Day is all about, right? Wrong! That lasted about two years and then our lives became so bogged down with everyday responsibilities I just never felt I could take a whole day to pamper myself. Maybe breakfast in bed would be squeezed in, but that lasted about fifteen minutes and was accompanied by kids and dogs, all anxious to take advantage of my perceived “trapped” state tucked under the covers with a tray precariously balanced on my lap.

Two years ago, twelve years into motherhood, I had just made the usual calls to both my mom and my husband’s mother to wish them Happy Mother’s Day when the doorbell rang. I had no idea how much I had missed the big “to-do” of my own Mother’s Day until the moment I saw my husband standing at the door dressed as a delivery man and holding out an arrangement of irises, “delivery for Mrs. Stone” he said quite formally.

I reached out to take the flowers with what I’m sure can only be described as a look of shock. “Thank you young man” I replied as I accepted them, “would you like to come in for a cup of coffee? I’m afraid I don’t have any change for a tip.”

“Why, yes, thank you ma’am. I’d like that very much. Delivering flowers is much harder than most people realize you know.” Ronnie joined me in the living room as I sat the flowers on the coffee table and went to get us each a cup of coffee. When I returned, he had removed his delivery man’s cap and was gently rearranging the flowers, all three of the kids watching on with happy grins.

“Why look here! There’s something stuck down in these flowers!” he exclaimed as though surprised. At that, he dropped all pretenses and extracted a small golden box and held it in his hand, saying, “Janice, I’m afraid I’m very guilty of getting so wrapped up in everyday things that I don’t take the time to tell you what a terrific wife and mother you are. Mother’s Day slides by with barely an acknowledgement, but today I’m going to take advantage of the occasion to show you my appreciation.” He was joined by a chorus of enthusiastic “Happy Mother’s Day Mommy. We love you!” from the kids.


I watched as he opened the lid of the box and removed a Mother’s ring with birthstones for each of our children and slid it on my right ring finger. “Thank you sweetheart for all that you do. I apologize for not saying it often enough, but it’s always something I’m aware of. I love you very much.”


After years of Mother’s Day being just another day, my wonderful husband and children had just turned it into one of the most special days of my life.


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5 years ago, my fiance Jenn and I stepped on the campus of Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, IL.  We knew of each other and were friends by association but we never really talked much or took the time to get to know each other.  I always knew her as a big-hearted sweetheart and she always knew me as a very gentle and compassionate person.

The extent of our relationship consisted of me making fun of her for being a Cardinals fan and her making fun of me for being a Cubs fan.  We always talked about hanging out more often but we never actually did.

We continued to remain friends by association for the next 4 years.  During that time, we both went through very tough relationships that left us broken, bruised, and relatively hopeless for the future.  However, on May 27th 2010, that all changed.  A facebook status update from Jenn and a simple comment added by myself started a whirlwind of happiness and excitement that neither one of us saw coming.

Fast forward 11 months to April 26th 2011, the night of the proposal.  Jenn has absolutely no idea that I have bought a ring let alone been in cohorts with her parents for the past month.  I chose to do the  proposal at Jenn’s parents house because she is very close to her family.  Jenn enters through the garage door and is greeted by tea light candles and rose petals.

The candles and rose petals guide her to the first of four stations that have been set up.  The first station consists of a single pink rose (her favorite), rose petals, tea light candles and a card.  The card has a print-out of the facebook conversation that started our relationship.  Then, there are more rose petals and candles lighting a path for her to the second station.  The second station consists of the same elements except this card has the date August 15th written in it which is when we actually started dating.  Again, more petals and candles leading the way to the third station.  This time, the card says February 12th which is when we celebrated our first valentine’s day together.

Then, she proceeds to the final station.  Here, she is greeted with the rest of the bouquet of flowers along with a card that simply says April 26th, 2011 with a Question mark!  She then follows the path of candles and petals into the next room where I greet her on my knee and ask her to marry me.  And she said yes!!

Jenn and I are as happy as could be and we are extremely excited to see what God has in store for our relationship!

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Grant and I have one of those stories that few can share: we are high school sweethearts. We both went to a very small school in Greenview, Illinois. We started kindergarten and graduated from high school together. I strongly believe I fell in love with him on the first day of kindergarten. My parents have a video of me turning around and smiling at him for the first 15 minutes of kindergarten orientation, for me it was love at first sight. Over the years it was a constant battle to make this boy fall in love with me. Once we got into high school he finally started to notice and pursue me and we started dating officially on 9-6-2002.

For 8 very long and unpatient years I have waited to hear those 4 magical words. I didn’t need a large extravagant proposal all I wanted was for it to be special and it was every bit of that and more, it was perfect.
On Christmas Eve 2010 I was getting ready for Christmas with Grant’s family and I was in his room with the door shut I was putting on mascara (if I had only known)! I had no idea he was planning on asking me to marry him, I was completely caught off guard.

Grant opened the door and came walking towards me holding our dog Jerzie. She was dressed in a white wedding dress and a veil (they found it at Build a Bear workshop and she hated it) He had the most beautiful diamon ring in his free hand. He stood in front of me looked me straight in the eyes and asked me to marry him.

This is where it gets a bit embarrassing for me! I actually turned around, ran from him into his closet, tried to hide from him, and told him to quit talking. I’m still not sure to this day why I reacted in this way! I had waited so many years to hear these words! So then I began crying and that didnt stop for about an hour. I was finally going to marry the love of my life!

Next, we went up and made the announcement to his family. They were upstairs with the TV turned down still waiting to hear my scream of delight (which is actually way more like me than running away from him)! After about 20 min or so Grant said, “Ya know you never said yes?”  So then I made him get down on one knee and ask me again and then I said “yes. “

I know the proposal story will be told over and over as our family continues to grow and that is okay with me. I guess you never react exactly like you think you will!

We will be married in Hawaii on April 5, 2012.

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Last updated February 5, 2017