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.