Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

Calendar CoverI’m in my ninth year as a ReadAloud volunteer. I love interacting with the fourth graders on a weekly basis, reading, talking, laughing, and sharing our lives. Last year I presented the classroom a copy of my art calendar as a Christmas present. The following week one of the girls gave me a set of 36 watercolor paints. What a thoughtful gift!

Over Christmas break, I wanted to see what each of the colors looked like on paper, and so I drew 36 different colored swatches in a circular pattern. After they dried, I started doodling inside the colors and then created a sweet little bird to go in the middle. It was a whimsical piece, the result of playing around to get a feel for the strength of the pigments.

As I was painting and then doodling, I thought about the kids. I went through each face in my head many times, smiling again and again, appreciating the unique energy each one brought to the group.

The next time I went to the classroom, I gave them the painting, telling them that I believed each of the colored doodles represented one of them and that the bird in the middle was their teacher, Mrs. SINGleton. I said, “Even though each of you is very different, your teacher brings you all together to create a colorful, harmonious, fun classroom.” They cheered and applauded. Really!

Then I asked each to pick a favorite swatch. I said, “Whichever one you like best will be YOU in the painting.” What fun we had! I still remember: “Can I be the pineapple?” … “I want to be the orange flowers!” … “You know which one I’m going to pick, don’t you Ms. Dallmann?” … And on and on. There was no arguing, just joy. And every child made a choice.

I picked this painting for the cover of my 2019 calendar because I believe it represents the essence of why I paint. It’s all about having fun, creating, discovering, laughing, and connecting with others. I play with colors, shapes, and textures; I explore emotions and ideas. I laugh a lot when I paint. And every painting is part of a process, a very human process.


If you’d like to see more or place an order, click here: 2019 Calendars


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Gift Card

I’ve heard a lot of people comment that gift cards are “just so impersonal”! Last week I received one from the fourth grade class where I’m a ReadAloud volunteer on Thursday mornings.

It reminds me of when my grandma would slip five dollars into my birthday card. Mom urged me to buy “something special,” something that Grandma herself might buy if she lived closer. After the purchase, I wrote a thank-you note. (Remember those?) I not only said thank you, but I told Grandma specifically how I spent the money as well as the pleasure I received from my gift.

The first year I received a check for Christmas from my dad, I was a little disappointed. He had always been a thoughtful gift giver, and I enjoyed the presents he chose. As he slowed with age, though, it was easier for him to just send a check. He slipped in a note telling me to buy myself something special. So, I began a tradition of carefully choosing a gift I could imagine him buying. That year, I picked out a beautiful pair of gold earrings, and I placed the wrapped present under the tree with a tag that read, “To: Barb … From: Dad.”

On Christmas Eve, I “forgot” what the box contained and opened it with great anticipation. A few days later I sent a thank you note: “Dear Dad, I adore the beautiful gold hoop earrings you sent! I have been wearing them every day since I opened the gift. Thank you so much. I Love You! Barb.”

After his initial confusion over that first thank-you note, Dad came to look forward to finding out what he bought me for Christmas via the thank you notes. And, even now, more than 20 years later, when someone admires those earrings, I say, “Thank you. They were a Christmas gift from my dad.”

Yesterday I used the gift card from the students to buy two books. The thank-you note says, “Thank you so much for the Christmas gift card. Because I enjoy reading to you so much, I used it to buy two books for myself. One is a travel guide to the Big Island of Hawaii. I’m going there this summer, and I want to get the most from my trip by reading about it before I go. The second book is a journal I’m using to write all my ideas about–and wishes for–the trip. Please know I’ll be thinking of you all when I celebrate my 60th Birthday bicycling through Volcanoes National Park on August 14! Books help big dreams come true!! Thanks again for your magical gift. Keep Dreaming! Keep Reading! Love, Ms. Dallmann”

On the inside flap of the books, I have written: “Merry Christmas 2013 from Mrs. Burdette’s Fourth Grade Class at Overbrook Elementary.”

Impersonal? I think not!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2013

Making Memories


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Fun Presents


A quick blog in praise of “fun presents.” My new friend Amy presented me with a handmade  dish rag and a piece of material wrapped together with a string that was threaded through two seashells. On one of the shells she had written, “Wise” and on the other “Barbie.” Both are now hanging on my family Christmas tree.

The material has a pattern with cute, colorful owls.


Wise Barbie was too wise to use the dish rag! She did, however, put the material to good use as a laughter generator.

Wise-LuchWise (cooperative) grandpuppy!!

I’m thinking that piece of owl-patterned material could keep me busy for a week or two, finding creative ways to entertain myself. I just love the fun of unexpected presents that are also fodder for blogging. Thanks, Amy!

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Acrylic painting of tree

Acrylic by Barbie Dallmann

I’ve been married a long, long, LONG time. This year will be our 37th Christmas since we met. Frankly, I ran out of good gift ideas several years ago. I’ll admit, Dannie’s not that hard to buy for. He’s happy with anything that displays the Nebraska Cornhuskers logo. So, what am I complaining about? I suppose I’m just bored. Cornhusker duct tape was the best I could do last year. Ugh! I just couldn’t go through it again. When you add in Dannie’s complaining about how hard I am to shop for, I suppose the time was ripe for change.

The idea began brewing about six weeks ago. It started as a whimsical fantasy. I turned it over in my imagination and giggled a little. When I began wondering if he would go for it, a smile started. Finally, as I seriously considered whether it could actually work, I broke out in a mischievous grin. I tentatively suggested that I might have a remedy for our annual gift-buying angst. He took the bait, and so here’s what’s up this year. Each of us is buying our own gift. Unoriginal, you say? What if I told you there were rules to this game? (Okay, if you know me well, that’s no surprise!)

Rule #1 – You must buy something you would NEVER buy for yourself.

Rule #2 – You must buy something that you dearly WISH the other person would be thoughtful enough to get for you.

Rule #3 – You must buy the gift with your own personal money.

Rule #4 – You must wrap the gift in a way you would appreciate and enjoy receiving.

Rule #5 – When we open the gifts on Christmas, the other person gets TOTAL credit for buying the gift. Each will express all the gratitude of his or her heart for the PERFECT gift … one you would never buy for yourself, one wrapped to perfection, and one you had always wished for. Gushing thanks is encouraged.

That’s it. Five simple rules to bring a little variety and challenge into our holiday this year.

So far, I’ve learned one very important thing. He has been right all along … I am REALLY hard to shop for!

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