Tag Archives: Handy Helpers books

. . . And so life goes on.

For the past five years my life has been filled with caring for my husband Craig who had dementia. On December 12, 2018, he departed this life. His passing was a beautiful experience for me. He was able to remain at home as I prayed he would.  Although people from hospice came every day, Craig and I had lots of time together. I will always cherish those special moments.

As you can imagine, this has left a huge hole in my life. As I have thought about what I want to do now, I came to realize that there are two dichotomous paths I could take–neither of which would be the way to go. I could simply do nothing. After all, I’ve earned a rest. For five years, I have put my life on hold. The other path would be to try to do everything. Every day I see more opportunities and possibilities. But I realize I must be careful not to take on too much as a way to fill the void. And so I am proceeding with caution and prayer, seeking to discover what I am really being called to do.

One thing I know for sure, I will keep writing the Handy Helpers books. I finished book five in November, but the manuscript is still in my computer. Now I’m ready to publish it and get to work on book six. I am toying with the idea of writing a book about my experiences as a caregiver. I plan to do a little research to see if the world really needs another book on that subject. I’ll let you know what I find out.

I am also recommitting myself to writing this blog. I have sadly neglected it over the past year. It is my intention to have a new post each week.

Yesterday, I wore a pair of boots I hadn’t worn for a while.  The laces of the left boot had been tied into a dozen tiny knots. Stuffed in the toe I found one of Craig’s Megablocks.  As I struggled to untie the knots, it occurred to me that I would never again find this shoe in that condition. For a moment I considered leaving the knots and wearing something else. Then I remembered that every day I am surrounded by hundreds of reminders of Craig.  He is still with me in so many ways and he always will be.

Bluesky Familes

I grew up watching television shows like Leave it to Beaver, Make Room for Daddy, and Father Knows Best. Every week the family would be presented with a problem. In the course of the thirty-minute show, the issue would be resolved. The parents always seemed to know what to do and the children always responded in a way that helped them see the error of their ways. In reality, family life is so much more complicated.  Things were a little simpler when I was growing up, but even back then, we dealt with serious issues.

In writing the Handy Helpers books, I wanted to present strong family values. My families share meals together, pray, go to church together and genuinely care for each other. They go on picnics, have game night,  ride bikes and spend quality time together.  Accomplishing these things can certainly be more difficult in the fast-paced world we live in today. But creating a cohesive, loving family environment is worth the effort it takes.

My friend, Teresa, had this to say about the Handy Helpers books:

“I just love how the Handy Helpers get to experience all the things that kids their age experience. When they make wrong choices, they have to suffer the consequences. When they make the right choice, they get the good rewards that come with making good choices. It is so neat to see them learning and growing with each new turn in their lives. I also love that the parents play a big role. I believe the author wisely depicts the role that God meant for parents to have in training and guiding children to do and make right choices. As an adoptive parent I relate to Gus and his heart to help these three children, who so greatly need him, to become a whole family. I highly recommend the whole series of the Handy Helpers.”

You can now purchase Handy Helpers books at 50-60% off directly from handy-helpers-books.com


No good deed goes unpunished.


When the girls rang the doorbell, they heard Mrs. Henry shout, “Go Away.”

“Mrs. Henry,” Amber yelled through the door. “It’s Laura and Amber. We came to see if you need any help.”

“Come on in,” She yelled back. As the girls opened the door, they heard her say, “Might as well. You already woke me up.” The wrinkled condition of Mrs. Henry’s house dress told Amber and Laura that she really had been sleeping.  Her thin white hair was piled up on her head so that it looked like a giant spider had woven its web there.

“How are you feeling?” Laura asked, trying not to react to her appearance.

“I have a broken hip. How do you think I feel?”

“We were very sorry to hear about your accident.” Amber hoped she sounded sincere. “How did it happen?”

“It’s a long story,” Mrs. Henry sighed. Amber and Laura were sure it would be.

“I was late for my Bridge game and I had my arms full of old clothes I was taking to the thrift store. The gravel in my driveway was loose. I wish I had a cement driveway, but Mr. Henry said we couldn’t afford cement so we had to have gravel. Anyway, the gravel was loose and my feet started slipping. I tried to grab a hold of my car door, but I kept slipping. The next thing I knew, I was down on the gravel. I probably would have lain there until I died, but Doris Duncan came by to check on me when I didn’t show up at the Bridge game. At least I have one person who cares a little about what happens to me. She called for an ambulance and they took me to the hospital. The doctor ordered an x-ray and said I have a broken hip. The next day, I had surgery. They put me in rehab for three weeks, and now I’m supposed to take care of myself. I can get around some in my wheelchair, but no one cares if I starve to death.”

“We care, “Laura assured her. “What can we do for you?”

“You can go to the store and buy me some things that I can cook myself from the wheelchair.”

“We’d be happy to do that,” Amber managed a smile. “Do you have a list?”

“I just need eggs, bread, milk and coffee. Can’t you remember that without a list?”

            “Of course we can,” Laura smiled. “We’ll go to the store right now and be back before you know it.”

            “Sure you will,” Mrs. Henry sounded doubtful. “Here’s some money. Don’t lose it.”

            Laura and Amber jumped on their bikes and raced down the street toward the market. Laura had tucked Mrs. Henry’s money safely in her pocket. After they located all of the items in the store, they went to the checkout counter where Margaret, the clerk, rang up their purchases.

Amber put the milk and bread in the basket of her bike. Laura took the eggs and coffee. They rode back as fast as they could, knowing that Mrs. Henry would be annoyed if they took too long. Just as they were turning the corner onto Hope Street, a large yellow dog ran out in front of them. Amber managed to miss the dog, but when Laura tried to swerve around him, she lost control of her bike. With a loud crash, she landed on the pavement, the back wheel of her bike still spinning around. Amber ran to help her up. That’s when she saw the raw egg spilled on the pavement.

“Are there any unbroken ones?” Laura asked as Amber opened the carton.

“Only two,” Amber said. “Are you all right?”

“I’ll be fine,” Laura sighed, “But what are we going to do about the eggs?”

Just then Amber realized they were on Betty Jenkins’ street. Amber and Laura knocked forcefully on Betty’s door.

            “What’s wrong?” Betty asked when she saw the panic on their faces.

            “We were shopping for Mrs. Henry, and we broke the eggs,” Laura explained.

            “It wasn’t our fault,” Amber added. “A dog ran out in front of us.”

            “Don’t worry,” Betty said, calmly. “It was just an accident. We’ll think of something. Let me see if I have a dozen eggs in my refrigerator.”

            “We just need ten,” Laura said. “Two of them didn’t break.”

            “I’ve only got six,” Betty told them after checking her refrigerator. “Let’s go across the street to Doris’s house and see if she can spare four eggs.”

            “What took you so long? Did you have to milk a cow?” Mrs. Henry fumed as the girls came through the door with her groceries.

            After they had put away Mrs. Henry’s groceries, Laura asked if there was anything else they could do for her.

            “Not today,” she said, “but come back on Wednesday. I’m going to need you then.”

            “You’re welcome,” Amber said when they got outside.

            “You didn’t expect her to thank us, did you?” Laura asked.

            “Of course not.” Amber laughed “Those words aren’t in her vocabulary.” 

From The Handy Helpers: Seven is a Perfect Number, available from Amazon

Memorial Day in Bluesky

memorial-day-animationCitizens of Bluesky were unfolding chairs and spreading blankets on the lawn at the senior center. A stage had been set up for the Memorial Day celebration. Promptly at ten o’clock, a little man in a World War Two uniform stood alone on the stage, a bugle in his hand. He lifted the bugle to his lips and began to play “Revelry.” Everyone stood up and remained quiet until he finished. As he took his seat on the stage, Walt walked to the microphone and said, “Color guard, present the colors.” With that, young men in uniform came forward carrying the American flag. After the singing of the national anthem, and the opening prayer, everyone was seated.

“I’d like to thank our bugler, Bobby Sims,” Walt said. “And our color guard from the high school ROTC, and Fr. Steve for the invocation. I would also like to thank all of you for coming here today for this special celebration.”

The program continued with speeches from the Mayor and other dignitaries. Then Walt invited family members to come forward and make presentations on behalf of loved ones who had passed away. The Handy Helpers watched as Gus walked up to the front with a picture and the flag he received when his son died in combat in Vietnam. Gus placed the flag and picture among the other memorials on the display table.

At last, Walt asked the Handy Helpers to come forward. They stepped up on the stage in order, forming an American flag. First were Logan and Chris, then Melissa, Next were Laura and Amber, followed by Spike. Beth Anne came last, using her walker. As she made her way down the center isle, the spectators rose to their feet, whistling and applauding. When she reached the front, Logan and Chris stepped down to lift her onto the stage.

“The Handy Helpers are going to lead us in patriotic songs. We’re hoping you will all join in.”

With that, the Handy Helpers began singing “God Bless America.” The citizens of Bluesky proudly joined them. At last, Bobby Sims came forward again to blow “Taps,” on his bugle, and the celebration came to an end.


“Beth Anne is the hero.”

Beth Anne finished

Beth Anne walked through the tall grass to the edge of the pond. She looked into the pond and saw tiny fishes swimming just under the surface. Dipping her hand into the water, she wiggled her fingers, scaring the fish away. The water felt cold. Continuing on around the pond, she noticed the grass was shorter and there were rocks along the edge. A lizard sat on one of the rocks, sunning itself.  Tiny bugs had landed on the water. Beth Anne wondered if the lizard would try to catch them for food.

After watching the lizard for a few minutes, Beth Anne decided to join her friends on the other side of the pond. She was making her way there, when she noticed a little girl about three years old, splashing her hands in the water. Suddenly, the rock on which the little girl was standing gave way and she fell into the pond. Beth Anne yelled for help. When no one came, she jumped into the pond and pulled the little girl out just as her head was going under water. Amber and Laura finally heard the commotion and came running around the pond. They helped Beth Anne get the little girl out of the water.

“Where is your mom?” Laura asked the little girl when they had her safely away from the pond.

“Over there,” The little girl pointed in the direction of the picnic tables.

As the girls walked toward the picnic tables, the little girl’s mother saw them and came running.

“Why are you all wet?” The mother asked, upset.

“I fell in the pond,” the little girl answered. “She pulled me out.”

“Thank you so much,” the mother said to Laura.

“It wasn’t me,” Laura said. “Beth Anne is the hero.”

“I can’t thank you enough for saving Tiffany. I didn’t even realize she wandered away. If you hadn’t been there, she might have drowned. You really are a hero.”

Since Beth Anne’s clothes were wet, the girls decided it was time to go home. They got on their bikes and rode back to Doris Duncan’s house.

“I’m a hero!” Beth Anne shouted as she ran in the house.

“Why are you wet?” Her Grandmother asked.

“Because I’m a hero,” Beth Anne said again.

“Well, hero or not, you’d better go change your clothes before you catch a cold.”

Just as Laura and Amber were leaving, the doorbell rang. When they opened the door, they found a reporter and cameraman standing on the porch.

“Is this the house where the little girl lives who saved Tiffany McDonald from drowning?” The reporter asked.

“You mean Beth Anne,” Laura said. “I’ll get her for you.” Laura left to get Doris and Beth Anne. Amber stayed at the door with the reporters.

“How did you find out so fast?” Amber asked.

“We were at the park doing a story on the improvement plans the town council is working on. Mrs. McDonald, Tiffany’s mother, came over and told us the story. She pointed you out as you were leaving the park, and we followed you.”

Laura returned to the door with Doris and Beth Anne, who was now wearing dry clothing. “What is this all about?” Doris wanted to know.

“Your granddaughter saved a little girl at the park. She would have drowned if Beth Anne hadn’t pulled her out of the pond. “

“She told me she was a hero,” Doris said, amazed. “But I thought it was just one of her adventure stories. She likes to make up adventures.”

“I’m Veronica Lyons, a reporter for Marshallville Area News. I’d love to interview Beth Anne for tonight’s broadcast.”

Beth Anne went with Veronica and sat down on the sofa in the living room.  While the reporter asked questions, the cameraman filmed the interview.

“What were you doing at the park?” Veronica asked.

“I went there with my friends, Amber and Laura to look for fish in the pond,” Beth Anne said. “I didn’t know there was a little girl by the pond.”

“How did you notice her?” the reporter continued.

“Laura and Amber were looking for . . . What was it?” Beth Anne looked at Laura.

“Crayfish,” Laura said.

“Oh, yeah, crayfish,” Beth Anne went on. “I was walking around the pond. That’s when I saw the little girl. I thought she might get hurt in the pond. Then she fell in. I tried to yell for help but nobody came. Then I went into the water and pulled her out.”

“You are a brave girl,” Veronica said. “Our television station has a reward fund. We’re going to give you twenty-five dollars. What do you have to say about that?”

“I don’t know what to say about that,” Beth Anne said, hesitantly. “I’m happy to get twenty-five dollars. I can help my grandma buy groceries.”

“That’s very sweet of you,” Doris said, “but that’s your money. You should use it to buy something you want.”

“Watch the news tonight at six,” Veronica told them all. “You’re going to be on it.”

From The Handy Helpers: Seven is a Perfect Number  available on amazon

A Rocky Start: Chapter Seventeen


It was Melissa’s idea to dress up for the luncheon at the senior center. Amber would have been happy to show up in jeans and a T-shirt like she usually wore, but Melissa suggested she wear her Easter outfit. That meant that instead of riding her bike to the senior center, her mother drove her there so she wouldn’t get her clothes dirty.

“You look very nice,” Mary said as Amber got out of the car. “I’ll be here at two o’clock to pick you up.”

Melissa and Laura were already inside when Amber arrived. Mrs. Snow greeted her and showed her to the table. “We’ll be starting in a few minutes,” she said. “You get to sit at the head table.”

Amber looked around the room. The junior volunteers were seated at a long table near the front—Three Handy Guys at one end and the Happy Helpers at the other. Walt and Mrs. Snow had places in the middle. There were vases of fresh flowers on the tables. The room was filled with chatter as the seniors were selecting seats at the round tables.

“You girls look very nice today,” Mrs. Snow said.

“Thanks,” they said all together.

“I thought you’d be wearing stripes by now,” Spike shouted out from his end of the table.

The Happy Helpers gave him a dirty look as Walt rose and picked up the microphone.

“We’re here today,” Walt began, “to thank our junior volunteers who do so many nice things for us.” Walt introduced the Happy Helpers seated on his right and the Three Handy Guys seated on his left. “Since they are the guests of honor today, we’re going to let them go through the line first. Then we’ll call the order of the tables to follow. Stick around after you eat. We have a special video prepared by our own Hank Anderson.”

Betty Jenkins was at the head of the serving line, handing out plates and directing the diners as they progressed through the line.

“This salad with the dark-green leaves looks really good,” Amber said as she scooped some onto her plate.

“I made that,” Betty told her proudly. “I hope you like it.”

“I’m sure I will,” Amber said as she moved on to the potato salad and pasta salad. The table was loaded with all kinds of casseroles and breads. On another table, she saw luscious pies, cakes, and cookies. Amber looked for Betty’s special chocolate chip cookies but didn’t see them there.

“I love this salad Betty made,” Amber said once she had begun eating.

“That’s a surprise.” Laura laughed.

“Why?” Amber asked. “I always like salad.”

“Even spinach salad?” Laura laughed again.

“These dark-green leaves are spinach?” Amber asked, surprised. “That’s not possible. Spinach is stringy and bitter. This salad is crisp and sweet.”

“Spinach from a can is stringy and bitter,” Laura pointed out. “But fresh spinach is really good.”

“Now I wish the grasshoppers hadn’t eaten the spinach in my mom’s garden. Maybe she’ll try again, and I’ll help her grow some spinach. Now that I know how good fresh spinach tastes.”

The guests had just finished their desserts when Walt stood up and grabbed the microphone again. “As I said before, Hank has been making a video of the things that we do at the senior center. Without further ado, I call your attention to the screen that we’ve set up on the north wall. Gus, could you please dim the lights.”

As the room grew dark, Amber noticed Hank turning on the projector. It took a few minutes to warm up, and then a picture of the front of the senior center was visible on the screen. The viewers were taken on a virtual tour of the senior center as Walt, the narrator, pointed out all the activities that happened there. In the exercise room, a tai chi class was going on. Amber watched as the instructor led the seniors in smooth, graceful movements. She was thinking she would like to try tai chi some day. In the recreation room, seniors were playing chess and checkers. Others were working on a community jigsaw puzzle. The next scene showed seniors playing bingo in the dining room. Then there were highlights from the shuffleboard tournament. The video made being a senior look like a lot of fun.

At last, the video showed what the Happy Helpers had been waiting for, the spring luncheon. They laughed as they saw themselves greeting the seniors who were wearing their funny hats. Walt continued to narrate as he explained how important it was to have good volunteers. He introduced the Three Handy Guys and talked about all the things they do. There was video of them mowing the lawn and washing the vans. Hank had even gone to Gus’s house and made a video of them painting his porch. Walt continued to talk about volunteers as the video showed the Happy Helpers shredding paper, setting the table, and cleaning the kitchen.

As the next part of the video started, a hush fell over the lunchroom. This part wasn’t narrated by Walt. It showed the lunchroom the day the spoons disappeared. Bob was frantically trying to find the spoons. In the meantime, seniors were doing their best to eat the pudding with forks. In the video, pudding was dropping all over the tables and into laps. Some seniors tried drinking the pudding with equally disastrous results. Some were slipping on pudding that had been spilled on the floor. It could have been a scene from Funniest Home Videos, except no one was laughing.

As the video continued, it showed the walkway in front of the senior center. Instead of being nicely swept, it was covered with rocks and clods of dirt. Seniors in wheelchairs and those with walkers were trying to navigate their way to the front door, but it was difficult with so much debris in their path.

Amber looked over at Spike, who had his head down. Her face turned red as she watched the next part of the video. It was taken in the shredding room where Mrs. Snow and Walt were picking up the bags of shredding that Amber had cut the bottoms out of. They had shocked looks on their faces as the shredding flew everywhere. The two were down on their hands and knees, scooping it out from under the table and desk and stuffing it into new bags.

Amber was wishing the video would end, but there was more. This time, it showed the van covered in muddy water. Bob was on his way to deliver lunches to the seniors who were homebound. Instead of taking nice, hot food to them, he was saying, he would have to take time to wash the van because the windshield was too muddy to see through.

That was all Amber could take. In the next second, she was out of her seat and bolting for the door. Just as she came racing down the walkway, her mom pulled up in front.

“What’s wrong?” Mary asked when she saw the disturbed look on her daughter’s face. “Didn’t you have a good time?”

“I just want to go home,” was all the explanation Amber gave her. She sat in silence for the rest of the trip.

Amber went straight to her room and closed the door. She turned her face to her pillow just as the tears started to come. After about fifteen minutes, she stopped crying, except for an occasional sniffle.

Mary knocked on her daughter’s door. “Amber, are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” Amber assured her. “I just have lots of homework.”

“Laura and Melissa are here. Come on down.”

Amber went to the bathroom and washed her face. She hoped that she looked like nothing was wrong. But her puffy red eyes gave away the fact that she’d been crying.

“Why did you run out like that?” Melissa asked.

“They were just trying to make a point,” Laura said. “Walt talked to the four of us afterwards. He said he likes having us as volunteers, but he doesn’t like the war that’s been going on between us and the Three Handy Guys. We all talked it out and decided to work together instead of fighting each other. Then we can be better helpers for the seniors. That’s what’s important, isn’t it?”

“Did you say ‘the four of you’?” Amber asked.

“Spike ran out right after you did,” Melissa explained. “Logan and Chris are going over to talk to him.”

“If Spike’s in it,” Amber snarled, “I don’t want to be. Actually, I don’t want to be in it anyway.”

“But you’re the one who got us started helping Betty Jenkins,” Laura reminded her. “We need you.”

“You don’t need me!” Amber said emphatically. “I just mess things up.”

“I did some things too,” Melissa pointed out. “I’m the one who locked the boys in the ladies’ room.”

“But no one was hurt by that. I didn’t tell you before, but I’m the one who cut holes in the bags of shredding. When I saw Mrs. Snow crawling under the table to try to get all that paper . . .” Amber’s voice trailed off.

“We figured that out after we talked to Chris and Logan,” Laura told her. “They’re not mad. They know Spike did things to us. Everyone wants to just forget about it and start over.”

“That’s easy for you to say.” Amber hung her head. “You’re not the ones who made a mess of everything. You’re better off without me.”

“That’s not true,” Melissa said. “We need you. You’re an important part of our team. Like Mrs. Snow said, just because we got off to a rocky start doesn’t mean we should quit trying. We have a chance to really help people who need our help. That’s what matters.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

The Handy Helpers–New Year’s Resolutions

Scan_20141229Like many of you, the Handy Helpers have been thinking about their hopes and expectations for 2015. These are their New Year’s  resolutions.

My name is Amber Snyder. I’m in the fifth grade at Bluesky Elementary school. This year I am going to work on finishing what I start. Sometimes I get distracted and I leave a job unfinished. My mom tries to help me get organized, but I don’t always remember everything. If I can get my homework done on time and do my chores without being told, my parents will be very happy and so will I.

Hi, I’m Melissa Peterson. In 2015, I’m going to try to be nicer to my little sister Trisha. She can be such a pain, it’s going to be hard not to yell at her, but I’m going to try. I’m also going to try to be more patient with my dad. He was in the army in Afghanistan. Now he’s home. I don’t like the way he bosses me, but I’m going to try to be a little more understanding. I know he has problems too.

Yo, Spike here! My New Year’s resolution is to stay out of trouble. It’s not easy to be a good kid all the time, but I can try harder. I hate being picked on by my sisters, and sometimes I do mean things to them. Jennifer’s boyfriend Todd told me to hang in there. He said that pretty soon my sisters will go to college and I’ll be an only kid. I can’t wait!

My name is Logan Green. I live with my mom in Bluesky. My dad is an airline pilot. He isn’t home very much. Sometimes it makes me angry to see my mom so sad when he’s gone for a long time.  I’m going to try to be the best son I can be. Maybe then my dad will come home more often.

My name is Beth Anne Riley. I like to be with my friends and help my mom and dad. Mrs. Henry is my friend. I like to help her too. My mom says that I need to listen more. That is what I want to do. It will make my mom happy and my dad.

Happy new year from Laura Thomas. My resolution is to help my mom more. She is very busy with her dance studio and taking care of my little sisters. I like to help with the cooking, but there are other things I can do like laundry and housework. Then my mom will have more time to relax and be in a happy mood.

Hello, my name is Chris Bishop. My New Year’s resolution is to read my Bible more. My brother Eric reads his Bible every day. He wants to be a minister when he grows up. Eric said that everyone should read the Bible because it tells us how to live a Christian life.

Hi, I’m Rosemary Morgan Heddens, the author of The Handy Helpers book series. My New Year’s resolution is to keep writing books that will help my friends solve problems and grow in the way they should go.