14 December 2011

Wrapping Gifts

Tips about wrapping Christmas presents… aka random thoughts based on a conversation from lunch today:


When wrapping Christmas gifts, you would be wise to take the toys out of the packaging, remove all those annoying wires and gadgets that hold the toy in place, insert batteries if need be, and then wrap the toy.  Then when it's time to open gifts, you will be able to enjoy watching the children open the gifts instead of constantly trying to remove all the excessive wires, etc.


Do your kids get gifts from Santa?  Do you have a good hiding place they're in right now?  Have you considered putting the gifts under the tree unwrapped?  At first I didn't like this idea cause then kids wouldn't have gifts to open.  But as I thought that through, they would likely still have a gift from mom, dad, grandma's, and others who will wrap them.   Unwrapped gifts are perfectly okay.  After all, every time you see Santa on TV with his bag of loot, are the gifts wrapped 100% of the time?  It will save you time, save on the piles of paper and if your kids are young enough, they won't care.


Now, if your family is like mine, we don't do Christmas gifts from Santa.  In fact, Santa is just another fun character like the veggie tales and Batman.  Yes, our kids have learned about Saint Nicholas via the Veggie Tales movie, but the actual fat dude in a red suit who crawls down the chimney only in "rich" countries, well, we don't focus on him.  And we're not criticizing you if you do, it's just my personal decision for my family.  Often times my parents will get a gift from Santa and so will Ryan cause it's fun.  Our kids probably will too when they're older but not right now when they're 6, 4, and 3.  So anyway, back to my point, I had another thought about gift wrapping.  Instead of spending endless hours of gift wrapping while the kids aren't staying in bed, or while you're exhausted, the thought occurred to me that we could get a big box, put all of their smaller gifts in it and wrap it.  That, my friends, would be awesome.  Kids still get to unwrap a gift.  I don't have to wrap a hand full of gifts, and we save on picking up piles of paper.  I'd be more than happy to let the 3 things of tape sit there for another year!


What are your Christmas wrapping thoughts and plans?


10 December 2011

Christmas Greetings

I've debated and debated the Christmas card thing because I love receiving them. But I found two good excuses why I should not send them out this year:

  1. When my hard drive crashed in October, I lost my spreadsheet with everyone's addresses.

  2. For the amount of time I'd spend labeling and stuffing envelopes, I could actually use it to CLEAN my house that's become last priority lately.

  3. I know I only said two but it's really, really hard to find a good pic of our family as you can see below:

The above picture was taken on Thanksgiving with a series of other pics. Judah was grumpy and looked like this in every single picture. The other two were hams for our chilly little photo op.

With that said, Merry Christmas from the B's. Here's a brief update on our family:

Ryan is in his 11th year of fixing pets and livestock at Valley Vet Clinic. He's also busy volunteering at church as sound-man, Sunday School superintendent, writing an advent devotional, leading junior high youth group, and he co-leads our Thursday night small group. In his free time you might find him writing articles for a local paper, cutting wood, or playing with the kids. Ryan's favorite thing this year was... well, I'm not sure and he's busy snoring at the moment or I'd ask. I'm guessing his favorite thing this year was seeing Wicked, the musical, or going back to Ethiopia.

Tamara is in her 10th full year with the USDA conservation agency but moved offices late this summer and has a much shorter commute. She's busy volunteering too. Some of her favorites are the crops project in Ethiopia and hanging out with her elderly lady friends in the community. She can also be found at the church modering meetings, leading the missions committee, and co-teaching both Sunday School and Awanas midweek. Tamara's favorite thing this year was all the travelling - Kansas twice, Missouri, Ethiopia twice, and California once. If oranges would've been ripe while in California, that would've made the top of the list.

S (6) is in 1st grade and is wildly intelligent. At conference this fall, his teacher bragged that he not only could read at a HIGH level but he could understand it too. Yes, he loves to read. Scott is generally easy-going and loves sharing his room with his siblings but doesn't always enjoy sharing his toys. While Scott would tell you that his favorite thing is playing the Wii, he spends most his free time reading. He fixes his own lunch, clears the table, folds his own clothes and loves to play at the neighbors.

B (4) is loving her first year of [pre]school. She also loves to dance and shake her booty. We have no idea where she got those moves from unless Grammy is skyping Auntie Sarah's dance studio for lessons. Bethany loves to be doing. Constantly. She likes to help in the kitchen and is great at drying dishes. Just this morning she was "reading" to Judah which meant she was telling the story as she flipped the pages of the book. She loves to take a bath, snuggle at bed time, and play with her brothers. This year she even started making some simple jewlery to help raise money for people in ethiopia affected by the famine. Wildly independent, she still loves to sleep with the boys with her duck blanket nearby.

J (not-quite-4) continues to grow and amaze us. He's the opposite of his sister and clams up when he's mad, frustrated, or not getting his way. But, on the bright side, he's handsome, intelligent and full of energy. Judah's favorite thing is whatever anyone else is doing and just doesn't want to be left out. He loves to be oustide tinkering with his daddy, putting together puzzles, and playing with toys. He's awesome at getting his clothes changed, brushing his teeth when asked, and listening in general.

The animals: yes, of course we'll include them. At Christmas last year we got an australian shepherd pup. He's got more energy then all 3 of the kids put together and chews on EVERYTHING. Our lawn is constantly scattered with something he's been chewing on. Late this summer, several kittens also joined our funny farm. We now have a total of 3. Harley still loves to chase the kittens but they are co-existing a little better these days. I'm guessing Harley doesn't like their claws on his nose. Imagine that.

Life as we know it keeps us hopping. There's always something going on and never enough time in the day to keep the house in perfect order. As a family we enjoy being together, playing games, having friends over, and snuggling up for movie nights. We are sinners thankful for the shed blood of Jesus, for His ressurection, and how He daily blesses us and calls us to follow Him. We aren't perfect spouses/parents/children, but we try daily and often times fall short. This Christmas, we're especially thankful for the richness we know and try to be thankful for it as we press on.

For the B family,

Tamara B

02 December 2011

A Nice Gift

Hello all, guest blogger this morning. It's "the husband". Due to my current state of insomnia I find myself awake at all hours of the day/night, with no one else around. This has been giving me time to get extra things done.

I thought I' post a quick note about my wonderful wife. My family has had a tradition of giving each other tree ornaments every year when we decorate the family tree. This is one of my favorite traditions and I look forward to find the perfect ornament every year, and of course getting mine.

The kids and I found the ornaments we wanted way back in October when we were visiting family in Des Moines, but I had no idea when Tamara had found the time to get mine so I assumed she hadn't gotten me one.

I was delightfully surprised when I was passing out ornaments to have her walk up and give me something wrapped in tissue papper. I quickly unwrapped it and found a little Ethiopian mask Christmas tree ornament. I have started to collect the masks when we are in country. I'm not sure why but they kind of intrigue me, so I was very delighted to find that my wife had thought of me when she saw the little one and had the forethought to purchase it to surprise me with it on tree decorating day. She's a good woman like that.

27 November 2011

Family Fun

Can you tell where we went to have fun today?

That's right, I got to join this good lookin' crew at the local bowling alley.

Fun was had by all today. The best part, I thought, was when we got home and it was nap time. Yes, I was one tired momma!

26 November 2011


Today was a stay-at-home day. That means it's Saturday at our house. The kids usually love S-A-H days and the movie night and popcorn that precedes them. Anyway, today I wanted to be doing some deep cleaning, pulling out the winter coats and that kind of thing. Instead, I just hung out with my kids. The boys got haircuts, they all played in the bath and then made a game of getting lotioned up. We did normal life stuff but didn't have a time to do something by. Instead of making lunch, we snacked on gardettos and waited for Ryan to get home from work to eat a real lunch.

After lunch, I kept my word to Bethany and took her shopping. Judah, who prefers his daddy EVERY time, wanted to go with me. The only way I could get Bethany to be okay with Judah breaking in on our mother-daughter date was to tell her she could get a "special" cart. She was sold. They did well in the big W store except that they asked for EVERYTHING. Umm, no. We walked down a couple of toy isles, through the Christmas decor isles and even checked out the patterns in the fabric department before getting the things we actually needed. It was a fun time and considering I'm always on a time frame, and I never once looked at my watch. I just enjoyed my slightly frustrating time with my I-want-that-children. We left and stopped at the golden arches for an apple pie before heading home.

Back at the ranch, I mean acreage, my rockstar husband and his mini-me had purchased a live Christmas tree, had all the decorations out, lights on the tree and were ready to decorate. He's awesome like that. So we decorated the tree, snapped a few pics like the ones below and laughed at how the kids reacted to those poky needles as they tried to hang ornaments. Ryan headed to the vet clinic and his two littles bundled up to go with him while Scott and I had some hang out time together.

Scott asked me to play with him. I don't actually play with him often. We read books, we chat. But I don't do 6 year old play time with him. So, I obliged my son. And I didn't want to just oblige him, I wanted to enjoy it. And enjoyable it was. His request was to play with his Veggie Tales nativity set that just came out of the storage box. Trying to help him set it up, he kept correcting me. It donned on me that he was setting up the story and baby Jesus wasn't there yet. It warmed my heart to hear him explain. So he set up the story line and then began telling it to me and role playing with the Veggie characters. He paused in the story and couldn't tell it with perfection. Now let me say that I don't expect perfection. He's just that good with stories and so I asked if he wanted to read it in the bible. Yes, he answered, but clarified that he wanted to read it in the "Action Bible". So, we paused from the role playing, read a story in the action bible, which got him distracted and he had to share about a naughty girl, and eventually made it back to the role playing with the Veggies. Scott continued with the story line when he got to the last king visiting Jesus, I took over. That particular veggie was vertically challenged and couldn't see over the manger so I made my role fun. Is it okay that I took the short king and totally added some to the story? Here's how it went, something along the lines of :
"I can't see the baby..."
as the king stands in front of the manger. He moves behind the cow and says
"wow, you have a big rear end..."
Trying to get a view of the baby, he then jumps on the hay stack and says
"oh there He is, the King of the Jews, our Savior, I shall bow down to Him"
as he falls on his face and scoots off.
Scott thinks it's hilarious and can't wait to role play the way momma just did. The first time he tried to mimic me he couldn't even talk he was laughing so hard. Of course, I thought it was funny that he thought it was so funny and ran over to post it on facebook. As I typed, I could hear him finally spit the words out "you have a big rear end". And later when Ryan got home, it was the first thing he showed my boy with an amazing memory showed his daddy. Oh dear, what have I taught my son?!?!?!

Fortunately before Daddy got home, I left my son to role play and started supper. Bethany's request: Pancakes. While Ryan and I were cooking, the kids were each playing with their themed nativity set. It was fun to hear them in the other room. Scott was, no doubt, the older sibling in charge as we heard him say "Time to play little red school house. 5-4-3-2-1. Judah, you're supposed to zip your lips, lock them and throw your key in the trash... Judah!" There is a reason Judah got the nickname he did. Two "mickey-mouse", one "minnie", and a bunch of normal blueberry pancakes later, we sat down to eat. Mmm, I love bacon! And I love the quietness of the room when everyone has food in their mouths.

Without question, the highlight of my day was Scott mimic'ing me role playing with the king. As I was chatting with my mom on the phone about it, the thought crossed my mind that with his memory, this could go beyond the nativity sets. Look out First Baptist Church. If my son gets a certain role, he just might go hide behind one of the older girls and call out "wow, you have a big rear end". that would certainly be more memorable than him picking his nose or checking out the baby Jesus. Not that he's done both of those or anything.

(side note: The action bible is really cool. It's basically the bible stories in comic book form. It references the actual verses from the bible and has amazing illustration is awesome! Scott will sit and read it for over an hour. If you haven't heard of or seen the Action bible, check it out at the actionbible.com)

22 November 2011


I'm embarrassed to say that I hardly know what day it is.  That might be caused by the recent travels and then my even more recent three days of being bedridden because of my back.  So as I was reading facebook for a few minutes waiting for my pain reliever to kick in, I saw news that rocked my world.  It was a post by my friend Amy about celebrating her brother's 32nd birthday.
For those who know me well, know that while in my sophomore year in high school, my dear friend, Scott, was in a woodshop accident.  He died leaving behind his parents, his sister, and loads of friends who loved him.  Tomorrow is Scott's birthday.  He would be 32.  He had just turned 16 when the accident occurred.  I'll never forget the details surrounding those few weeks.  I cried and cried.  My heart ached for years.  Scott was a huge impact on my life.  He was the one who led me to Christ.  God used him in the lives of many and people like me and I never even go to say thanks.
Thinking of my friend, Scott, today brings tears to my eyes and at this point I can't even think straight.  I wish I could put into words how much my friend Scott means to me. 
Since I can't make my brain function, I'll share a quick story.  I was recently back in the town I was raised in.  When I crossed paths with Scott's parents, they were getting ready to introduce a guest pastor at church.  When I walked up to them, Bonnie introduced me to the guest pastor as being "one of Scott's old girlfriends".  In all of the last 16 years, I don't think I've ever been introduced that way.  Sure enough, once upon a time we were boyfriend and girlfriend.  But we were young (and I'm sure his parents wouldn't have approved) and our relationship was just a kid thing.  I remember Scott's sister, Amy, taking us to Baskin Robbins.  And if we were super secretive, we might have held hands on the 5 mile drive.  Regardless of that junior high relationship, I have a mature love for Scott.  Not because of the trip to Baskin Robbins, but because he loved me where I was at and shared the Truth of the Gospel with me. And almost 16 years later, his life still impacts mine.
Happy birthday dear friend.  I know you're celebrating with the King on your birthday!

14 November 2011

Weekend in Kingsburg

For over a year now, I've been talking about going home. The driving factor has always been my grandma's. They're not getting any younger. And should anything happen to them, I'd be on a plane and headed home. So, why not go why they're healthy? It was more than that though. I wanted to catch up with my friends and family. I wanted to share with them about my heart for Ethiopia. So, when I heard my Abuela was in the hospital and a day later saw my other grandma who had aged quite a bit, I knew I needed to get home.

I'm so thankul to my husband, Ryan. He's amazing.

Going home wasn't going to be easy. After all, I was getting ready to travel to Ethiopia. How would we finance both trips? Did I even have that much vacation time? With the support and love of my husband, I purchased a ticket to fly to the home town I was (mostly) raised in. Because of ticket prices being so high, I wasn't able to take any of the kids with me. Which meant that I'd have a weekend to run around like crazy and enjoy some time with my family and friends.

Who knew that Wednesday I'd get the 24-hour stomach bug that had loated around. An early night to bed on Wednesday, with a short work day on Thursday so I could pack, I headed to the airport. My flight was late leaving Cedar Rapids but I made my connection just fine. When I did land in Fresno, I was met by my dear friend, Kristine, her sweet girl and these yellow roses from my husband. He knows these are my favorite:

Friday, I had a fun day with my family. Lunch with Mis and the kids, an afternoon with my dad, sis and niece and nephews. Then an evening with my aunt, uncle and a bunch of cousins. I loved being home and living life with them, if even only for a few hours each. Then Saturday morning I was able to sit in the corner of Starbucks with my friend, Paul, while we chatted and life happend around us. After a quick stop over at the winery, I headed to my nieces birthday party. For the first time in her 8 years of life, I was able to celebrate her birthday with her. Not sure that she cared but I did and it was sweet.

That evening, was the wine social to benefit my volunteer work with FOVC. I will write a more detailed post on my journey4hope blog later. But for now, just to share that this was only possible through the help of my friends, but especially that of Oscar, the winery owner, and those who came. Thank you Oscar and friend for loving, encouraging and supporting me!

And of course, a very important reason for my trip was my Grandma's. I got to see them both. And while we didn't exchange much for words or family history like I'd hoped for, I got to love on them, hold their precious hands and just be there. It was so sweet. Since I didn't get a pic with my nanny, here's one of nanny with one of my besties:

And of course, sitting with my abuela was such a blessing. But it wasn't just my grandma, it was seeing all my family. I consider myself blessed to have seen each of them. It had been a long time. Especially my dad's side. I hadn't seen some of those cousins since my grandpa died in 1997.

This morning, I got to hang out with Seebs, one of my fav high school teachers, lunch with my dad and Nina and then back to Krsitine's. As the time drew to a close today, I packed up my suitcase while still fighting some stomach nastiness. I grabbed my laptop since I'd lost my flight agenda before I even left, and realized that my flight left at 340pm, NOT at 430 pm. Who knew I was dislexic. Nina immediately rushed me to the airport. We were nervous, in need of gas, and hoping to get there on time. No dice. Seriously, even though I was standing there with my luggage at check-in, the not so bend-over-backwards-to-help-me lady informed me that I missed my flight. What? The flight doesn't leave for 30 mins! Well, I learned that in such a huge, I mean, dinky airport like Fresno, they can't manage to get me through check-in, security, and onto the itty-bitty plane in time. Stupid united. Stupid me for not having the time right. Well, $75 later, I'm booked and checked in for the first flight out tomorrow.

And I have to be there at 5am. Good to know.

So, back to Kingsburg I go. Still no desire to eat. But here one more night with my friends. While my husband thinks that I will do anything to extend my vacay, I am so ready to be home. seriously.

06 November 2011


Last night was pretty rough when Bethany was curious and stuck her hand under a running, very textured, treadmill. I couldn't get downstairs fast enough when I heard the screaming. Then the sight of her hand literally made me sick to my stomach. We washed, she screamed and daddy got her bandaged up. She continued to scream and wail. I couldn't fix it which make my heart ache and my stomach hurt even more.

Today is a new day.

Before Pastor started the sermon, he informed us that one of our members was prepping for a c-section. No fun. As the sermon was coming to a close, someone announced in church that baby wasn't breathing. Everyone froze and we collectively prayed. With a few minutes the news began to improve a little at a time. Interesting that we'd been talking about how God redeems life. Oh God, please move mountains for this little baby.

No desire to stand around and chat after church today.

We head home. Quietly. Get home to our excited dog running circles around us. While getting out of the van to grab a few things and get back on the road, I heard the dog wailing. In pain. I met him a few yards away and saw that his front arm/shoulder was bit to shreds. Again. Walking around the garage, I see the neighbors dog. Seriously!?!?! Didn't this just occur 3 weeks ago? Harley wouldn't let us near him. So I ran in the house to grab him some food and coax him out from under the porch where he was still wimpering.

Was that a puddle in the floor?

Setting the food on the porch I came back in the house. Yes, water on the floor. I looked up to see water dripping from the ceiling. Really!?!?! Isn't water cascading from upstairs only supposed to occur other places - like hotels? Ryan headed up stairs to see the water in the sink still on. Darn kids. This isn't the first time they've left the water on. But it is the first time we've left with the water left on.

Clean that up quick. Place ice-cream buckets under the dripping spots. Coax Harley out with food. He runs to his kennel favoring his leg. I ask the vet about surgery and jump in the van letting the professional deal with him. I'm thankful Ryan can do the surgery but it isn't free. It does cost money to put the dog under, sew him up, and give him meds. So frustrating.

Heading down the road, I make another courtesy phone call to the neighbors. Not wanting to rock the boat, cause I love our neighbors, I want them to know that I'm frustrated and something's gotta change. Something has to change. The second time. In my yard. Grr.

A year ago, when the time changed, our wood pile caught on fire. At least that didn't happen again this year, right?

01 November 2011

halloween pics

A few Halloween pics.  Judah got mad at something right away and did his normal "shut down" mode where he wouldn't smile, talk, or even show anger.  So very frustrating.  His kind of drama is so different than Bethany's.  Anyway, we managed to have a rushed but good time anyway.  Stopped at a hand full of friends houses plus their neighbors and got too much candy.  Carrying a candy bag and a light saber was hard on Darth Vader but we made it.
As a side note, I love eating halloween candy.  It's my weakness.  But yesterday when I stepped on the scale after being gone for 10 days to Ethiopia, it appears as though I'd shed a few pounds.  What a perfect motivator to not touch the candy.  So far, so good.  And since I'm up way too early again, I might go to the treadmill.  Then again, I might just fold laundry...

31 October 2011


Tonight my kids will once again put on their Halloween costumes.  Scott and Bethany already did so once for school but I didn't get to see them.  Tonight, I will get pictures of my Star Wars boys and my witchy girl.  This morning while chatting with Bethany, she asked me what I was dressed up as for halloween when I was a kid.  When I told her I'd been a witch once, she was so excited.  She's going to rock the witch costume tonight for sure.
In other news, while I was gone for 10 days to Ethiopia, my husband put a new faucet in my bathroom.  And I didn't even have to ask.  He's amazing like that.  He even baked a bunch while I was gone.  He said he did lots of dishes while I was gone.  I thought it was a great lesson for him.
If you're interested in reading what I was up to when I was gone for 10 days, I'll continue to post for the next week or so about it on my Journey 4 Hope blog.  Click on over and check it out www.journey4hope.blogspot.com.   

04 October 2011

Beyond Prejudice

For months I have looked forward to reading this book titled Beyond Prejudice. Author, Raschelle Wurzer, writes beautifully as she intertwines history, faith, and politics with a love story. I started out reading a chapter each night of this ~200 page novel. Within several weeks I'd have the book finished. But it's one of those books that once you pick it up, you can put it down. I'd find myself literally holding my eyelids open so I could finish another chapter.

I love how the story portrays the prejudices that people faced during the Pearl Harbor era in the early 1940's. As a woman who's loved someone, I could put myself right into the main character's shoes. Ms. Tyler, a causcasian woman, is in love with David, a Japanese-American who is being evacuated to an internment camp following the bombing on Pearl Harbor.

I could tell you all about the book because I enjoyed it immensely. In fact, today, while riding 3 hours one-way for a 15 minute appointment, I started on chapter 7 and finished reading the book before we got back home. It was that good. I would recommend this book to all of my friends to read. It's a short and easy read. It will grab your attention right away. I loved it.

I also happen to know the author. She's an amazing woman! She did not ask me to read her book or write this post. I share because I know that reading this won't be a waste of time. If your local library doesn't carry it yet (it just came out in July), then ask them to order it. I give this book a thumbs up for sure and can't wait until she writes another one!!! Maybe next time I can sweet talk Raschelle into letting me proof read it first :)

01 October 2011

Pumpkin Patch, Parade and Park fun

Today while dirty dishes sat on my counter, and laundry needed folded, we were out having fun. First stop, Kahler's Pumpkin Patch where we checked out the roosters and then picked out our pumpkins with Nikki and her kiddos.

From there, we headed to to the Brick City Days Parade. We stopped at our favorite parade spot to buy a few cookies and then grabbed a spot to sit and watch the parade with Kari and her family.

After the parade where my kids collected way too many tootsie rolls, we headed to the park, walking off a few of the calories I consumed while eating cookies. We appreciated that all the fun was free to participate in. The kids rode in the smiley-face cars, got baloon art, participated in the vegetable derby, played on the toys and had a meal before we left. I'm glad I stayed down there longer than we had planned. It was fun!

What a great day in rural Iowa! With my family and friends.

20 September 2011

Great Night

Tonight wasn't anything special. But at the same time, it totally was. We were just living life together. The boys were helping Ryan "recycle" cardboard - each boy taking their turn recycling. Bethany and I dealt with the rest of the recycles. She was such a big girl carrying big cardboard boxes creatively in her arms. After the 'ol wood truck was loaded up with recycles, Bethany was super excited to be able to ride in the Ford with her momma. She even learned how to roll down a window the old school way - manually. While I emptied the big bins, Bethany "shot" plastic bottles into the bin. She had a blast. I had a blast watching her. As we left the recycle lot and headed to take trash, she hung her head out the window like a puppy dog, and was as excited as one too, letting the wind blow in her face. A.dor.a.ble. We made a quick stop at mom's where she showed off her talented scooter-riding skills and then headed over to grab pizza before going back home.

We got home to the boys living life together too. Guess how. Yes, playing the wii. It was cute. Everybody had pizza and fruit before heading upstairs to practice awana sections and get ready for bed.

And then it all fell apart.

One child pee'd in the floor. Cause apparently peeing in bed wasn't bad enough this morning. When questioned about it, said child informed me that said child dropped their pants and pee'd. Just six feet from the toilet. Are you kidding me?!?!? When I told said child to go upstairs and pee, I didn't realize I had to clarify to urinate in the toilet. And cause it can't be that simple, another child had an accident in their undies. Second pair of pooped in undies for that child tonight. In 2 1/2 hours of being at home. And while pee child had been tucked in and Ryan was dealing with double-poop child, I went to tuck in the remaining child. Only I got a wif of poop on that child too. Seriously. This child had an issue earlier in the night too. So, I grabbed child out of bed and rushed child to the bathroom to go poop. And I was smart enough to clarify this time that it should be IN THE TOILET! Ryan looked like he was ready to bang his head into the wall so I kindly offerred to finish up with our three little lovelies.

What was their deal??? All I know is I'm glad they're in bed.

And while I sit quietly downstairs, we hear a child talking. Bethany was reading her Dora book. Apparently, her "night light" is a little too bright. I walked up the stairs, stood in her door way and watched her. When she finished with that book and grabbed the next one, I quietly interrupted her by calling her name. She, with much surprise, tossed her book to the side, closed her eyes and pretended to be sleeping. I about died of laughter. Managing to hold in my laughter, I called her name again. Still as a statue, she ignored me. I gently reminded her that it was bed time and not reading time. She asked "what if I can't sleep?" I replied telling her that she was welcome to sing to God if she couldn't sleep. As I came downstairs and sat down we could hear her over the noise of the TV. Unlike the previous half hour, this was music to my ears!!!

Oh how I love parenting!!!!

10 September 2011

Hanging out in Central Iowa

This has been a great weekend to be with Ryan's family in Central Iowa. Not only are we here to speak at Ryan's home church about our Ethiopia trip, we're also celebrating Uncle Mike, Kevin and Grandpa's birthdays (even if they're not here).

We've had a great weekend so far. It's always great to hang out with Tera and the kids, Uncle Mike and Aunt Betty. We played outside in the yard, made a run to Strbks coffee, and bought Halloween outfits.

A certain little girl really wants to be a witch for Halloween:

We made home-made pizza, and ate too much food while we watched the Hawkeyes and Cyclones battle it out on the football field. The kids napped, played in the jacuzzi tub and got spiffied up for a night out on the town.

We all headed to Prairie City where Ryan's family was born and raised. Ate at the Cider House which is across the street from the old DX station that Ryan's great grandfather owned before selling it to Ryan's grandpa. This old place holds lots of memories for the B family. So, we snapped a few pictures of our time hanging out in a small town in rural Iowa.

Grandma and the guys cross Main St in serious discussion:
Who couldn't take this cuties picture. Yes, he's mine:
Cousins having fun hanging out in front of the old DX station:

A cute little boy and his Grandpa:

Another cute Cyclone fan:

Grandma and her boys at the old station:

And as the kids continued to run up and down the sidewalk playing tag and giggling, the sun continued to set over this small central Iowa town that the B's have considered home for over a century.

I'm just thankful that I get to see a little of it these days and bring my own B's back to this small town to celebrate with family.

Alright kiddos, it's time to head back to Uncle Mike and Aunt Betty's. We'll be back here again tomorrow to share with the Reformed Church about all that God is doing in Ethiopia through FOVC and then we'll celebrate with family once again before hitting the road to the place our little family calls home.

Thank you God for our family... those who are near and far!

09 September 2011

ISU vs. Iowa

Raising money today for FOVC's Feed Hope Relief Project.  These two necklaces are themed ever so slightly for each of the teams playing this weekend.  They both utilize paper beads made in Ethiopia mixed in with some beads from Kenya.  Necklaces made by yours truly.
Will you buy one?  Can we sell it to the highest bidder, starting at $20 each?  What are you willing to pay? 

04 September 2011

Getting a new kitten

When we went on our horseback riding adventure, the kids fell in love with the kittens. We agreed to let them have one. But because we were headed other places after we left the Glenn Farm, we couldn't take a kitten with us. Today, our generous friend, Allan, offerred to grab the grey tiger striped kitten that Ryan wanted and bring it to the clinic.

When the kids saw him pull up, they were EXCITED!!!

Farmer Allan brought 3 for the kids to choose from:

They test drove all 3:

Guess which one we came home with.

That's right, all 3:

Farmer Allan, that was a smart move on your part.

Thank you for bringing the kitten and 2 more to us.

Next up: naming the kittens...

01 September 2011

Off to Preschool

It's been a long time waiting for this little girl but today she's headed off to pre-school. She'll have a great day with Mrs. W, Mrs. D and the her classmates! I love you precious girl!

31 August 2011

Proud to be an Iowan

I've been wanting to blog about a cool Iowa story for over a week now.  But finding the time to do so has been tough.  When I saw it again on the news tonight, I thought I had to do a brief post of why I'm proud to be an Iowan.
First off, I must say that I'm in counseling now that I finally admitted that I'm an Iowan and not a Californian.  But anyway.
A few weeks back I heard of a local pastor doing a good deed.  He'd heard of cattle ranchers in Texas having to sell their herds because a drought has meant a lack of hay crop.  If you can't feed your animals, you have to get rid of them.  This Pastor and a few other Iowa farmers are helping the drought-stricken farmers in Texas.  The project which they called the "Hay Lift" is taking donated hay from MY (previous work) county where they had a good hay crop and donating it to those in need in Texas.  Now, how about that.  Why?  Because we should pay it forward.  And because the locals that I'm proud of remember the '88 drought where their yields were bad.
I'm not going to re-write the article found here http://www.kwwl.com/story/15354809/iowa-farmers-helping-drought-ridden-texas-farmers but I will say one thing.  Way to go guys (and ladies).  I'm proud of you!!!

26 August 2011

I am thankful. And have a full tummy.

Good Grief

With change comes grief.  But not a bad kind of grief.  It's a good kind.  Today is my last day in the office I've worked in for 9+ years.  This office is like home to me.  After all, I spend 9 hours a day here.  This morning will be my last drive to work.  Will I meet the Donlon's on the road?  Will deer run across in front of me?  Will the recycle truck be at Gunder?  Will I get all my stuff packed up and loaded into Ryan's vet truck?  I thank God for the 9 years I've had in this quiet office on a river town in Northeast Iowa.  So here's 9 things I love about this office/job:
1.  My boss.  I started this job with a boss who was very kick-back but became like a father figure.  He retired Jan 2010.  I was blessed to eventually get a new boss who was also kick-back.  Just a few years my senior, I also enjoy and appreciate my "new" boss.
2. My coworkers. They are wonderfully hard working people.  This is more than a paycheck for each person here.  It truly is a means of serving and educating those around us.  My coworkers have changed over the years but I've learned from each one of them. 
3. My clients.  Most the time they're farmers.  Some times, they're landowners who rent ground.  Sometimes they're landowners with no crop land.  Sometimes they're super friendly.  And sometimes they hate the government so they're jerks.  But, there's a hand full of favorites.  The ones I wish I could take with me.  The ones I would sit around a camp fire with.  The ones who use this building for assistance and education, not just for rules and money.
4. The landscape.  This is one of the prettiest and diverse counties in the state.  I'm not biased at all either.  It has rock out-crops along the Mississippi River bluffs.  It has acres and acres of timber and wildlife.  It has the rolling hills of cropland.  And a few prairie pot holes can be found in some areas of the county.  With the might Mississippi bordering the East side of the county, and the Volga and Turkey rivers running through the county, there's plenty of spots along the river to fish and protect.
5. My corner office.  I'll admit it.  I'm kind of spoiled.  I have a back corner office.  Not really an office, more of a cubicle.  But it's still in the corner so I have a little space to myself back here.
6. The partners I work with.  Some of them I would consider my coworkers.  Our building has 3 agencies.  The staff in those other agencies are also my friends.  I'm going to miss the [not just] girls over at FSA for sure.  I'm going to miss the DNR partners that I've come to know around here and my Extension buddy downtown.  Clayton County has some great partners and I appreciate them.
7. The challenging work load.  Well, this won't change in my new county.  It will still be a challenge.  But, I like the diverse workload here.  I'm swamped almost all of the time.  And working with participants with all kinds of backgrounds and interests creates it's own fun challenges. 
8. The interest in conservation and wildlife.  What more can I say about that?  People like to improve their land around here and I love working with them.
9. Educating open-minded people.  Not everyone has to do things they way their grandfather did it.  I like when people come to us open-minded about how to pursue or deal with something.  To prevent a problem before it arises.  That is definitely one of my favorites about the job.
I'm looking forward to today.  Although it will be a little akward saying goodbye.  I love my co-workers but I hate "goodbyes".  With that said, I'm looking forward to my next adventure in another field office.  A closer drive to work.  A new staff that I already know a bit.  A similar but different work load. 

25 August 2011

Today is the Day

I hope you enjoy your first day of first grade son!

23 August 2011

Great Grandma

I miss my grandma's. A lot. They're both alive. But they live where I grew up in California and I live in Iowa. I don't get to see them much. Haven't seen my one Grandma since 2008 and my other for over a year. I'm long over due. In the mean time, I'm blessed to have a third Grandma. She's Ryan's Grandma but she loves me like her own. While we were in Des Moines Monday, we made a point to head home a little different route so we could stop and see the kids' Great Grandma B. She's a sweet and loving lady. And she LOVES her great grandchildren.

Here's a few pictures back at Grandma's apartment with Scott reading to her:

22 August 2011

It is Finished

I'm glad today is done.  Granted, I would have loved to been in bed 2 hours ago.  As it is, I'm sitting here blogging with no glasses/contacts in and I'm tired and my eyes are blurry.  I'm brilliant, I know.  I thought about sharing with you about the chaos of my day and maybe I still will tomorrrow.  But I couldn't find anything positive to share.  Yikes, I gues it was a bit chaotic.  But as I sat here and thought about it, I have lots of positives from today.  It's all a matter of perspective.  I share these to encourage you to look on the bright side and to thank God for the many blessings we have:
  1. Roof over my head.  Warm bed.  3 meals today.
  2. Starbucks coffee.  Shared with two kids.
  3. A day off of work.
  4. Being EARLY to an appointment.
  5. Time with Great Grandma today.
  6. Ryan's family who loves me like their own family.
  7. Kids who are, for the most part, perfectly healthy.
  8. A hug from Judah (those are rare sometimes)
  9. Money to buy groceries and other things.
  10. Air conditioned vehcile.
  11. Seeing Scott's bones on x-ray today.
  12. An encouraging word from a friend.
  13. Funny kids.
  14. Excited kids.
  15. A husband who puts groceries away so I can veg on the couch.
And there's lots more where that came from.  Those good memories are good considering our wild day!  Thank you Jesus for rest.  I'm looking forward to getting some now.

18 August 2011

shutterfly... a love hate relationship

I love shutterfly.  They sent me a 50% off books coupon.  I ordered 3 of the "faces of Ethiopia" books.  Cha-ching on the savings there.
I love shutterfly.  Last time they jacked my order, they gave me a $10 off coupon which I also used.  I hear another cha-ching on the savings.
I love shutterfly.  They had a free shipping on orders over $50.  More savings. 
I don't love that I couldn't get free shipping to send books to two different places.  Only one destination got free shipping.
I don't love that I couldn't also use the 30% off of prints coupon from their site.
      (now, I'm not trying to sound like a total jerk about not getting 30% off, I just didn't see until I read the small print that I couldn't use the free shipping and the 30% off at the same time)
I don't love that after I ordered, the free shipping somehow mysteriously dissapeared.
I love that you can cancel your order within 30 minutes.
I don't love that I had to spend another half-hour adding all the photos and books back to my cart to "fix" the order.
I love that in the end, my total was $46.83 and I saved $74.37.  Cha-ching for savings... not so much for cash flow :)
I don't love that somehow my first cancelled order was only $44 and change and I'm too tired to figure out the difference.
Overall, I really like shutterfly.  And of course I will use them again and encourage each of you to try them.  I love my photo books... even if I'm 3 or so behind.
P.S. The picture is one I ordered - one for his daddy and one for his momma in Ethiopia.  I hope to check on her when I'm in Ethiopia at the end of October.

Hat Day

It's a hat day today.  In light of that, I found a couple of hat pics from the archives...