Tag Archives: Easter dresses

A Rocky Start: Chapter Ten Continued


Shopping opportunities were somewhat limited in the town of Bluesky. For a quest like this one, Mary and Amber had to drive into Marshallville. For really serious shopping, like Christmas shopping, they might even drive to Phoenix. But they were sure that one of the shops in Marshallville would have exactly what they wanted.

The road from Bluesky to Marshallville winds through open grassland before climbing up into the mountains. Around curve after curve, mountaintops covered with tall ponderosa pines come into view. Approaching Marshallville from the east, it seems to appear suddenly among the mountains, as though it sprang from the pages of a pop-up picture book. It is a city with a long history and a colorful past.

Mary drove past quaint neighborhoods with beautiful old homes built in the Victorian style. The streets were lined with tall elm trees, the branches seeming to hold hands high above the pavement. Victorian streetlights completed the allusion of traveling backward in time. Mary found a parking space along a side street in the downtown section of Marshallville. From there, she and Amber could explore the many small shops. Redbrick storefronts reminiscent of the early twentieth century lined both sides of the streets. One called Lavender and Old Lace was their favorite. Inside, they found some beautiful dresses. Mary quickly chose a flowered dress she liked for herself. It had a fitted waist and a full skirt. A matching hat completed her outfit. Then they looked around for a dress for Amber. She turned up her nose at the ruffled pink dress her mother held up.

“Yuck.” She shook her head. “I haven’t worn dresses like that since I was four.”

“What are you looking for?” Mary asked after they left the third store with no success.

“Something with no ruffles, lace, or bows,” Amber said. “Maybe a simple skirt and a nice top.”

“I know just the place,” Mary said excitedly. “I think you’ll find the perfect outfit there.”

Back to the car, Mary drove them across town to a small shopping mall where a tiny dress shop advertised fashions for teens and preteens. Amber gave a loud sigh of relief.

“I should be able to find something here,” she said with enthusiasm. “This place is new. How did you find out about it?”

“I sold them insurance a few weeks ago,” Mary said. “I had forgotten all about it.”

Several other mother-daughter teams were moving around the store from rack to rack, exploring the stylish choices. After trying on several outfits, Amber selected a black-and-white skirt that she matched with a short black jacket and white top. The skirt was a little shorter than Mary was comfortable with, but she changed her mind when the saleslady suggested tights to wear under it.

Now that Amber was satisfied with her Easter outfit, it was time for lunch.

“What kind of food would you like?” Mary asked.

“Mexican, of course,” was Amber’s answer.

Mary drove them to Amber’s favorite restaurant, Angelina’s Mexican Food. After being seated by the hostess, they studied their menus.

“You always order the same thing,” Mary said. “Are you thinking of trying something new?”

“I was thinking about it,” Amber said. But when the server came, she ordered her usual green chili burro with sour cream and guacamole on the side.

“I’m really proud of you and your friends,” Mary said as they waited for their food. “You’re sticking with this Happy Helper idea. I wasn’t too sure about it when you started, but I can see how important it is to you.”

“It is, Mom,” Amber said excitedly. “I like helping. It makes me feel good inside. But I also like spending time with the seniors. They know a lot of things, and they have lots of patience with us.”

“They probably miss their grandchildren,” Mary added. “You and your friends are sort of filling in for them in a way.”

“That’s true,” Amber agreed. “But it works the other way too.”

“What do you mean?”           “Well, Melissa’s grandmother lives with her family, but the rest of us don’t get to see our grandparents very often. Betty talks to me just like Grandma Snyder does. I really like that.”

“That’s a keen observation,” Mary said. “Obviously, you’ve thought about this quite a bit.”

“The seniors are a lot of fun,” Amber continued. “Take Gus for example. He tells these corny jokes and pops out his teeth.”

“What do you mean ‘he pops out his teeth’?”

“He has these false teeth on the bottom, and sometimes he pops them out. They’re just sitting there on his bottom lip. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“He sounds like a real character.” Mary laughed.

“Oh, he is,” Amber agreed. “But he is a really nice guy.”


Back at home, Amber and her mom put on their new Easter outfits and gave a fashion show for Kyle and John. Mary strutted across the living room like a model while her husband whistled and clapped.

“Way to go, Mom,” Kyle called out. “You’ve still got the stuff.”

“Thanks,” Mary said. “I think.”

When it was Amber’s turn, she walked casually across the living room, looking at her shoes.

“Come on,” her dad called out. “Show us your model pose.”

Amber stopped and put one foot in front of the other, hands at her side as she had seen models do.

“That’s my girl,” her dad said with pride.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

A Rocky Start: Chapter Ten

AmberOn Tuesday afternoon, Amber was surprised by a phone call from Doris Duncan. She asked if the Happy Helpers could come to her house after school on Wednesday to give her a hand at watering her plants. Amber was so excited she said yes about six times.

On the way to Doris’s house, Amber told her friends what to expect.

“Doris has the cleanest house I’ve ever seen,” Amber said. “We’ll have to be very careful not to make a mess anywhere.”

When they rang the doorbell, Doris yelled for them to come in. She was seated on the sofa in the living room as she had been when Amber was there with Betty.

“It’s so nice of you girls to give up your afternoon like this,” Doris said. “I can usually manage by myself, but with this darn back, I decided I’d better get a little help.”

As Doris instructed them, they carried the plants into the kitchen. Doris had slowly made her way to the sink. As each plant was placed in the sink, Doris used the sprayer to water the plant. Then she asked one of the girls to remove it from the sink so it could drain. The plants that were too high for them to take down were watered using a watering can. Melissa, who was tallest, volunteered for that job. She stood on the step stool Doris had her get out of the laundry room. With that, she was able to reach every plant.

“You girls did a wonderful job,” Doris said when they were finished. “I’d like to pay you something for your trouble.”

“We’re volunteers,” Amber explained. “We do it because we want to help others. We don’t expect to be paid.”

“Isn’t there anything I can give you?” Doris asked.

“Your plants are so beautiful,” Laura said. “Can you tell us your secret?”

“Of course,” Doris said proudly. “It’s very simple. I talk to them.”

“And that works?” Melissa looked doubtful.

“Well,” Doris said, waving her hand around the room to indicate the plants, “what do you think?”

“It must really work,” Melissa said with surprise.

“I’ll tell you what,” Doris continued. “If you girls come back and help me next Wednesday, we’ll take cuttings from some of the plants, and then you can take them home and grow your own plants.”

“Wow,” Amber said. “Would you really do that?”

“Of course.” Doris smiled. “It’s the least I can do to thank you for all your help.”

Friday was Good Friday, so there was no school. Mary took the day off from work so that she and Amber could have a girls’ day out. They both got up early to take Domino for a walk. Either Mary or Kyle walked Domino every day.

Amber hadn’t been allowed to walk Domino by herself since he was five months old. Something happened that made her parents decide Domino was just too much dog for her to handle. Amber had been walking him on the next block, when Domino spotted a rabbit. Domino and the rabbit stared at each other for a minute. Then the rabbit took off running. Domino tried to run after the rabbit, but with Amber holding on as best she could, he wasn’t able to catch it. When the rabbit ran under a wire fence, Domino tried to follow it. He dug at the ground, throwing dirt all over Amber. The rabbit just sat there on the other side of the fence, taunting Domino. Finally, Domino gave up trying to go under the fence and went over it instead. He would have pulled Amber over after him, but she let go of the leash. The rabbit hopped away across the yard with Domino hot on its heels. When the rabbit went under the fence on the other side, Domino continued over it. Amber ran to the alley to cut them off, but they were nowhere in sight. After looking for Domino for twenty minutes, she went home. Kyle jumped on his bike and rode around the neighborhood, calling Domino. He told Amber to stay home in case Domino showed up there. By the time Kyle caught up with Domino, he had terrorized someone’s cat, torn up a flower bed, and eaten another dog’s food. Kyle and John went back the next day and fixed the flower bed, but they all agreed that Amber’s days of walking Domino were at an end.

After their walk, Mary and Amber got dressed up to go shopping. It was their annual quest to find the perfect Easter outfit. Before starting their journey, they attended the Good Friday service at church. As they walked into the church, Amber spotted Mrs. Snow sitting by herself in a pew.

“Hello, Mrs. Snow,” Amber said. “I’d like you to meet my mother.”

“Hello, I’m Mary Snyder. Amber told me you are the volunteer coordinator at the senior center.”

“That’s right,” Mrs. Snow said. “It’s nice to meet you. You have a very fine young lady there.”

“We think so.” Mary gave her daughter a squeeze. “Thank you for giving the girls another chance. I’m sure they won’t let you down.”

“No one can figure out what happened with the spoons,” Mrs. Snow said. “But I thought I should at least give them the benefit of the doubt.”

“We’ll be there tomorrow,” Amber promised. “And we’ll do exactly what we’re supposed to do.”

“I’m sure you will,” Mrs. Snow said. “We got off to kind of a rocky start, but I’m sure things will work out fine from now on.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon