Friday, November 24, 2017

Tryazon Strictly Briks Party

In the middle of all the busyness that was the month of November I was chosen to host a Tryazon party for Strictly Briks. We got our party kit and the kiddos were stoked getting to try everything out before the party. I have to say the Brik Buster game was their fave...even though they LOVE having the base plates that stack.

Back when I first started seeing ads for Strictly Briks online I had thought they were a great idea and I had pinned a link on Pinterest as a possible future gift for Bug. But then I hadn't really pursued it further until the opportunity to try them out via Tryazon came up. Was so stoked when we got picked. But holy cow was it hard to get a party pulled together the weekend before Thanksgiving...everyone was either crazy busy or was coming down with some sort of sickness!!

Thankfully we still had a party!! Had a couple homeschool group friends and some neighbors come with their kids and we still had a fun, if small party. I think the kids were impressed with how COOL all the various types of briks were and the adults were pretty well impressed as well...with the price and how sturdy everything is, as well as how it encourages even more creative play. Sweetpea even made some cute little people out of the silicone briks and Creatorz briks, which was too adorable!!

Anyway...all that to say...if you are interested in a fun way to expand your kiddos Lego fun and be even more should totally check out Strictly Briks!! I know that we are definitely going to be ordering some items that we haven't even gotten to check out yet...just because they look awesome and useful!!

Here's the website: Check it out!!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Operation Christmas Child: A Rebuttal to Unsolicited Advice

Since that blog post (of what one person thinks you should and shouldn't send) is making the rounds AGAIN, I thought I might share my thoughts on her someone who received a shoebox in 1995, helped distribute shoeboxes to Romanian orphans in 2005, and is now packing shoeboxes with my children to send!! My story is here.

I agree with pretty much all her BEST list, though I would not be overly concerned if there is something on the tee. However, unless you got some REALLY great deals on clearance clothes it is actually better to go with plain. If you go with a design, and you have a choice...I would go with the more generic words/pictures over a licensed character, for sure. On my part, I just get plain colored tees from JoAnns (they sell them for decorating)...usually about $3/each. These are in gorgeous colors and a good quality. I generally try to not go too big, but to still get shirts that will fit the larger sizes on each boxes age range, as small kids can wear too big shirts, but bigger kids cannot so easily wear too-small shirts!! Just don't send XXL tees to a four year old and you should be good!!

I agree with most of her GREAT list...though I will say from experience that bandaids (especially the pretty ones with pictures/characters) will NOT be used as actual bandaids (though they WERE considered quite the fashion statement the week at summer camp that they were stolen out of my tent and handed!! I would also skip the candy and gum. There are sweets in every country in the world, some kids might not know that gum is not for swallowing, and even hard candy can melt and mess up other stuff in extreme temps. Not sure if a solar calculator is always a good thing either, cause depending on the country and school they might not be allowed. I put in sunglasses for ALL the kids and they are always a hit every time I have seen them given out (whether in shoeboxes, at summer camps, or VBS). Socks and underwear are always great...and I try to put in stuff geared to fit someone towards the higher end of the age range, so as to give the kids maximum use of the clothes. I also would not concern myself with whether a car has bigger tires or not. You can fit more matchbox sized cars into a box than the bigger ones and I have seen both my own son playing with his matchbox cars in the sandbox as well as kids in other countries playing with cars with NO wheels in the dirt!! The important thing is the car, not the wheels!!

I could say a lot about her NOT AS GOOD list. I agree with her on the temporary tattoos and anything that needs instructions. I also wouldn't send playdoh, not because kids might not know what to do with it (and in some places they might not)...but because it is a heavy-ish space waster that dries out quickly. I will STRONGLY disagree with her on the stuffed animals and the winter hats and gloves though!! Every kid needs something to hug!! I have NEVER seen a kid scared of a stuffed animal or upset to receive one...rather that was one of their favorite things to receive!! It must be a rather regional/cultural thing where the blogger is working...but I would really encourage people to continue to send stuffed animals in their boxes. Even teens have been known to sit and hug a teddy bear before going on to explore the rest of their boxes...and then said teddies get places of honor on their beds in the orphanage/group home!! Her point about the stuffed animals is more something she should bring up to the regional OCC people to ensure they receive boxes that might not have those. As far as the winter hats and gloves...I have seen a child squeal more over warm gloves than over a matchbox car or markers!! I will always include them if I can. You never know but what a child in a cold country might need flip flops to wear in a yucky orphanage shower...or that a child in a hot country gets chilly at night and a warm hat makes a difference. But God knows...and he will direct things where they need to go.

Anyway, that is just my thoughts on the blog post...take of it what you will!!


The little child off-camera yelling at the end over and over again? Yeah...she's super excited that she got gloves!! So if you feel the Lord leading you to put gloves/mittens in your boxes...go for it!!


What went into our shoeboxes last year:

GIRLS: Age 2-4 on top row, age 5-9 on bottom left, and age 10-14 on bottom right.

BOYS: Age 2-4 on top row, age 5-9 on bottom left, and age 10-14 on bottom right.

Pictures from delivering OCC boxes to orphans in Romania in 2005:

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Operation Christmas Child...Through the Years

Hi, my name is Julie. I live in the U.S. in Texas...and #ipackedashoebox for Operation Christmas Child. Here is my story of RECEIVING, HANDING OUT, and PUTTING TOGETHER shoeboxes over the past twenty years!!

Twenty years ago, in 1995, I was a missionary kid in Romania. Our family was probably the poorest money wise we had ever been that year as our few hundred dollars a month paid for our family of nine, our interpreter's family of four, our national pastor and his wife, as well as repairs and other work to get the old house we met in turned into a decent, if small, church building. Not sure how my parents managed, but money was definitely tight!! Just as an indication of how tight it Christmas gift that year from my parents was a fleece jacket that I needed anyway. That Christmas a village in the UK sent shoeboxes...shoeboxes that were for everyone in our church, including our missionary family...shoeboxes for all ages, from baby through adult. It was amazing!! I honestly don't know if my story about RECEIVING a shoebox actually "counts" I don't know if the shoebox I received was actually an Operation Christmas Child shoebox (as there were many organizations from the UK sending shoebox gifts to Romania in those days). But to this day, whenever I eat a chocolate orange, I remember my shoebox and the items inside that made my own Christmas that much brighter. I still have somewhere in my sentimental items the Christmas card that mentioned what village my shoebox was put together in.

Ten years ago, in 2005, I was a missionary in Romania myself...working with two orphan organizations, mentoring teens, helping in summer/winter camps, and teaching English. I got to see first hand the smiles and excitement as I was able to help by HANDING OUT Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes...not only at a school, but also to the very children I worked with every a group home for boys (that we went to every Monday evening) and at a girls orphanage (that we went to every Saturday morning). The squeals and excitement were amazing!! But what amazed me even more at the girls orphanage was what happened after the shoeboxes had been initially looked through and everyone was settling in to examine everything closer and begin playing with things. These little orphan girls who had practically nothing loved us so much for coming to spend time with them weekly...talking, listening, and playing with them...that they literally started trying to give us stuff from their shoeboxes to "remember them by"!! When we tried to refuse they would feel hurt. Eventually we agreed that each of us would accept one item to remember them all by. I took the little doll that the girls decided was gonna be for me from them home to the apartment I shared with another single missionary apartment where we were "roughing it" with no refrigerator, no washer, no oven...just a hot plate and sporadic heat and hot water. I set that little doll on a bookshelf...and it reminded me to keep things in perspective. I may have been "roughing it" but those little girls had pretty much nothing...yet they still wanted to share from their shoeboxes with me!!

Now, in 2015, my children and I have committed to PUTTING TOGETHER at least six boxes a year as a family (our boxes went to Ukraine this year)...and hopefully add to that each year as we can. I really want my children to learn how to care for (and to share with) those less fortunate. We hope to travel to the various mission fields I grew up on someday with our children...and I hope that they will someday get to experience helping to hand out shoeboxes as well. I would encourage everyone to do what they can, even if it is just one shoebox...because you never know but what your shoebox is the one to change a life in a big way!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Bit of a Catch-Up Post!!

So, I guess I kinda left my handful of followers hanging a few months back with promises of pictures from Bug's birthday bash!! Life kinda got crazy, but here I am attempting once again to start blogging regularly!! So let's do some catching up!!


First off...the promised pics of the birthday bash!! 

The driveway was lined with orange cones leading up to the door and in the entryway were hard hats and aprons for the kids (these were their party favors).
 The table was decorated to look like a road...all in black, orange, and yellow!! 
 A few construction books and vehicles decorated the living room as well.
 The kids had sack lunches...just like "struction" workers!! 
Adults had pizza and iced tea.
The birthday boy with his cupcakes. The kids had mini cupcakes and popsicles...
all made in peanut free facilities. Adults had an Oreo ice cream cake.
The happy birthday boy thanking guests for his gifts!! 


Also in July, Brack got to fulfill a dream he's had for a while...
getting to drive an awesome and powerful sports car!! 


In August, my sister-in-law Jana came with her three kids and we had three days of non-stop go-go-go!! One day at the zoo, one day at the botanical gardens, and one day at Sealife Aquarium and Legoland!! Here are a few of the pics from those crazy busy days!!


How's that for a recap of mid-July through mid-August? I will be posting several times over the next few days to get all caught up...cause there were a LOT of pics in this post!! 

Tryazon Strictly Briks Party

In the middle of all the busyness that was the month of November I was chosen to host a Tryazon party for Strictly Briks. We got our party k...