Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Issue 4 - The Kids' Guide to Merging Families

Here's what's happening in this issue of Celebrating Our Lives:

Romance works best when the creativity and responsibility are shared by both partners.  This month's story is about a woman who stepped up to the plate with a unique marriage proposal.

I was pleased by the response to my request for couples to test my romantic card game.  In just over 24 hours, 20 volunteers had signed up.  Several weeks after the initial request was sent, I was still sending emails to latecomers saying all slots
had been filled.  Thanks for your enthusiastic response.

I'll be speaking and signing books at the Covered Treasures in Monument on February 11, and at the Manitou Public Library on February 14.  Details are listed below.

I'm still looking for stories about memorable wedding proposals for my next book.  If you've got a good one, please share it with me.


When I was working with Sandy Dellacroce of Colorado Springs, the first winner of the quarterly drawing for a romantic adventure planning session, her husband, Steve, gave me a great idea for chocolate and wine lovers. 

Chill two wine glasses in the freezer.  Use the microwave to heat some dipping chocolate, the kind that is sold in produce sections by the strawberries or bananas.  Dip the rims of the glasses in the warm chocolate, then pour in your favorite dessert wine, like a port.  Steve gave me a bottle of his home-made cherry wine, which was heavenly.  The candied rim gave the wine a delicate chocolate flavor.  Most of the chocolate was still on the glass when I finished my wine.  I suppose a more sophisticated person would have left it there, but I was
on that chocolate like a dog on a bone. 


"How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved!" --Sigmund Freud


Ten-year-old Sebastian and his twelve-year-old friend, Jason, thought they had the perfect plan.  Sebastian's mom, Rhonda, was single, as was Jason's dad, Craig. The boys thought Craig should ask her out on a date.  If things went well, they'd be brothers as well as friends.

The two boys had been buddies for years. Rhonda had seen what a great dad Craig was to Jason and his sister Madison. So when Craig asked her out, she said yes.

They dated steadily, but Rhonda wanted to take things slowly.  That was understandable since she had been widowed and divorced by age thirty.  But Craig was smitten.  Within a short time, he bought her a diamond ring and asked her to marry him.  When Rhonda said it was too soon, Craig said he would give her all the time she needed, but when she was ready, it was up to her to ask him.  They continued to date, and the love between them grew stronger.

By October, Rhonda knew she wanted to spend her life with this man.  She decided to pop the question in a memorable way. 

Craig had planned to have a Halloween party for family, friends and the neighborhood kids.  Rhonda said she'd be there as soon as she got off work.  Instead of working late, she got off work early and put her plan in motion. 

Rhonda's grandmother lived two doors down from Craig.  Using this house as her base of operations, she lined the kitchen counter with thirteen gifts.  Thirteen was the favorite number for both of them — Rhonda because her birthday is on the thirteenth, and Craig because he'd found success in high school sports wearing
the number thirteen on his jerseys. 

Rhonda had recruited twenty of their kid's friends, all dressed in Halloween costumes, to deliver the gifts.  Early in the evening, there was more excitement two doors down from the party than at the party itself.  Speaking all at once, the kids indicated which gifts they wanted to deliver. 

Sebastian and Jason got the honor of kicking off the gift-giving parade with thirteen helium balloons, a disposable camera, and a card that read, "This is the beginning of 13 gifts I have for you to show you how much I love you.  Please take a picture of each delivery so I don't miss a thing."

A steady stream of gifts was delivered by groups of one to four trick-or-treaters.   Rhonda's grandmother, dressed as a witch, brought a jack-o-lantern filled with odds and ends like tooth-brushes and nail clippers.  Others brought CDs, golf balls and a framed print for the living room.  Thirteen roses — twelve red and one white — were presented with a note that said, "Out of all the people I've ever known, you stand out from the rest." 

The twelfth gift was a Christmas ornament that said, "Our first Christmas together" along with a card that said one word, "If ..."

When these gifts started arriving, it didn't take Craig long to suspect what was happening. When the twelfth present came with that big "if," he fill could in the blank.  The anticipation and enthusiasm of the partygoers was even more festive than their costumes.  Each time the doorbell rang, Craig didn't know if he'd be giving treats or getting them.   

Back at Grandmother's house, Rhonda was nervous, even though she knew Craig would say yes.  She felt sincere empathy for all the men though the ages who had popped the question. 

Rhonda heard stories of his reaction from the returning trick-or-treaters.   All of her young helpers came back to escort her when she made her final delivery.   Rhonda and her entourage made their way down the street. 

When Craig opened the door, he heard a chorus of young voices yelling, "Trick or treat!  Marry me!"  With teary eyes and shaking hands, she held out the final gift, a cake ornately decorated with the question, "Will you marry me?"

Craig choked out a yes, punctuate by a lump in his throat.  The cheering from onlookers was sweetened with applause from their children.  Someone took the cake from Rhonda's hands, and the trick-or-treaters moved inside to join the other guests.  Rhonda and Craig stood transfixed, sharing a private moment in the midst
of the chaos. 

Rhonda had created a memorable proposal to remind Craig how much he was loved.  He still says it was "the best day of his life."

What I like best about this tale is how Rhonda included their children in their engagement. She knew that merging families could be hard on children. By making them an integral part of their love story, they've made it over the first hurdle. 

                             *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Now I'll let you in on the rest of the story.  Rhonda is my niece, and her grandmother is my mother.  After Rhonda read The Art of the Spark: 12 Habits to Inspire Romantic Adventures, she started thinking about how she wanted to propose. The stories in the book inspired her to come up with a romantic
adventure that was uniquely suited to their situation and their children's needs.


Saturday, February 11, 11:30 to 1:00
Covered Treasure Bookstore
105 Second Street
Monument, CO
719 481-2665
I'll speak for 20 minutes around noon.

Tuesday, February 14, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Manitou Springs Public Library
701 Manitou Avenue
Manitou Springs, CO
719 685-5206
    The library is hosting "A Taste of Valentines." The evening will include finger
    food and desserts from fine Manitou restaurants, door prize drawings, and
    romantic background music.  I'll speak for 30 minutes around 7:30.  There's no
    charge, but if you plan to come, the library asks that you call to reserve a


I'll be teaching THE ART OF THE SPARK classes at Colorado Free University in March and April.  If you are in  the Denver area, I'd love to have you join us.  The 5-hour class is $54 for one person and $94 for couples.  The CFU member price is $49 for one person and $89 for couples.  To register, call CFU at (303) 399-0093. Here's the course number and schedule:
     * 4506AC     Tuesdays, March 7 and 14, 6:30 to 9:00
     * 4506AD    Thursday, April 13 and 20, 6:30 to 9:00


If you enjoyed this free e-zine, please forward it to friends.

I care about people and how they celebrate.  If you have any stories you'd like to share with others, please send them to me at  We can all learn from each other.

Wishing you a life of adventure,
Mary Zalmanek

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