April OCC Collections

April is just around the corner, and that means I’m gearing up to start a new Operation Christmas Child collection theme at church. We collected soap and rags in January; toys, clothes and blankets for 2-4 year old girls in February; and we are wrapping up collections for 2-4 year old boys for the month of March.

After some research and reading I learned that Samaritan’s  Purse tends to see the most shoe boxes for 5-9 girls. With that in mind, we will be skipping that age group this year. So, April we will be collecting for 5-9 year old boys.

You’ll have to forgive me for being a bit scatter brained for my idea shopping trip this month. I actually needed to go to Walmart for milk and some produce. But I try to avoid going for a bunch of extra trips, so I tacked this shopping on too; and forgot my idea list at home. (Go, me!)

Without further ado, here is a list of what I did get…and  a list of some other great ideas, as well.

Shoes and Socks**

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Like the last 3 months, I’m going to ask folks to bring shoes and socks for the shoe boxes. Flip-flops are easy to fit in the shoe boxes, and Walmart has these for $0.98! I recommend getting size Small (5-6). As always, I encourage you to try to get some good sturdy shoes for the boxes. Flip-flops are better than barefoot. But real shoes… WOW! These canvas shoes are size 10 and cost $5.87. The socks are size 10-2 1/2 and $3.97 for 4 pair.

Pants and Shirts**

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Clothes are great to include in Shoe boxes. I found these solid color shirts for $2.97 (the red one was marked down to $2. No idea why, but it may be worth digging.) I went with an XS and a M. The shorts were $4.97, and I went with size 5. Long pants would also be great, but they will need to be athletic type pants that will fold up really small. Remember to avoid wording or movie characters. What would be super popular here may be unknown, or even offensive in another culture.

Underwear

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Most Americans take things like underwear for granted. Other countries that just isn’t the case. It’s always good to include a pair or 2 of underwear in each box. I chose 4T briefs. The size chart says it will fit a 35-38 pound child. Small boxers or briefs would also be good for this age group. This package was $3.47 for 5 pairs.

Hats Bandanas and Sunglasses

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Obviously, I didn’t remember to actually buy sunglasses the other day, but just some ordinary shades would be great in a shoe box. I found this beanie on sale for $.50! But caps or the floppy brimmed sun hats would also be great to include. Bright colored banadans are fun and useful. Pick them up at Walmart for $1, or go to Hobby Lobby for a huge selection at about the same price.

Toys

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Just like for the last 2 months, stuffed animals are still welcome. Just remember to keep them small so we can still fit everything else in the boxes as well. These are T-balls so they are slightly softer and more bouncy than a regular baseball. I found them in lots of colors for $1.50. Tennis balls are also great. The match box cars were $3.47. The bigger cars that I suggested for  2-4 year old boys would be fabulous for this age group as well.

Other Ideas

Some other ideas for 5-9 year old boys, include:

  • Peg games (found on tables at Cracker Barrel. Find them near the store check out, for just a few dollars.)
  • Slinkies
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Flash lights
  • Echo-Mics
  • Cups or bowls

Happy shopping y’all! Let’s bless some children with some material things, while reaching out to them with the Gospel.

**As sad as this sounds, many of the children who will be receiving these gifts live in countries where food in scarce, and undernourishment is rampant. I say that to remind you that what we would consider average size for each age group, may likely be a pretty big kid in another country.

Why Your Mom Friends Want You to Have a Baby Too

My best friend is coming today! I’m pretty excited, for sure. But I’m a little nervous too. (And she’ll probably read this and think I’m nuts for thinking this way.)

We’ve been friends since we met at Dixie 4-H club when I was 9! I’ll just say that’s the majority of our lives, and leave it at that. Growing up we could go long times without seeing each other and still pick up with the same conversation… That could be because we only had about 3 topics we ever talked about, but who knows, right?! And the truth is I am certain we are still close enough to pick right back up where we left off over a year ago when we were last together. I just worry.

I worry I’ll be boring now. You see, this sister friend has a career. She doesn’t have children and doesn’t really care to have any kiddos soon either. I haven’t worked outside the home in 3.5 years. I chase babies and change diapers; and *gasp* want more than the typical 2 kids. What will we talk about?

She’s traveled. Australia, Africa, Spain, Germany… She has even addressed Congress in Washington DC! (Yea, I know. This chick is AMAZING!) I’ve….had 2 kids and just got a new dog…. Kinda dull in comparison.

She won’t care. We’ll still discuss our dogs, and other pets. We’ll laugh at the same stories and jokes. It’ll be a fabulous visit, but her coming made me realize why we, young moms, want our friends to have babies so badly.

I get it; you’re perfectly happy not having children. You’re happy to travel, work, have fun, all with no kids in tow. I can totally understand that. So, when I ask or (more common for me) wonder to myself “when are you going to have kids?” I’m not being nosey, really. I’m being selfish. Ha! So much better, right?? It’s true.

It isn’t that I can’t see how you’re happy without kids; the problem is I only know two topics: Gracie, and Skeet. I want to have something in common. I want to discuss childhood phases. Hear your ideas. Bounce around ways to deal with fits, potty training, bad habits, poor influences, and all those other things that are familiar to me. And I want to discuss those things with my friends.

So, we ask: When are you having a baby? It isn’t to be nosey. It isn’t to hurt you if you are trying unsuccessfully (if we knew that, we’d never, ever ask!) It isn’t because we don’t think you can be happy with no kids. It really is just selfish. We want to fit in the conversation again. We want to share this experience. That’s all. Try to understand our side too.

A Little Help, Please

Being a mom is hard.

I know, I know. That’s a shocking statement. Moms only have to carry, birth, feed, change, train, teach, drive, tutor, counsel, clean….. Shall I go on, or do we all get the point?

Yea, being a mom is hard, but I get the feeling it may be harder than it needs to be. What if we all helped moms just a little more? Instead of a pat on the back and a “just wait until…” or a “you’ll miss this,” or some other worn out phrase that serves no purpose; what if we got our hands dirty and HELPED other moms?

I’ll give a couple of personal examples of what I mean. A few weeks ago Skeet had a doctor appointment. Since I was already going to be in Amarillo on a weekday I decided I would just make a day of it and do some shopping. The very first stop was the resale shop, where I needed to get 2 kids and a big box of stuff in the door. People were coming in and out but no one offered to carry the box or even hold the door open for me. Either one would’ve been a HUGE help.

At that same stop Gracie was in a mood. She kept trying to run off to look at toys, and she laid down on the floor to cry twice. I was frustrated, because she has never done that to me before. We managed to wrap up in that store and I decided maybe an early lunch would fix the grouchy attitude.

We headed over to my favorite lunch spot — Chick-fil-a.Gracie stood sweetly in line and we sat down to eat. That’s when she noticed the play place. I’ve never let her play before because it’s not a habit I wanted to start. But with still a long day ahead I begin thinking maybe burning off some energy would help. I told Gracie if she ate her fruit and let me finish my lunch she could play. BUT when I said it was time to go she would have to come out nicely.

Fast forward 10 minutes and I was ready to go. Gracie was too short to maneuver her way up to the slide and I was worried she would make it half way and get stuck. Some sweet girls helped her to the top and when she came back down i told her it was time to leave. That is when disaster struck. I was holding Skeet and sitting with our drinks. Gracie ran away. I sat the drinks down and went to take her hand. She slumped to the floor and began screaming. I shifted Skeet and Tried to pick her up. She hung limp.  I managed to get her shoes back on her and in a very firm, but quiet voice told her to get her drink, we were going. She broke and ran. I swatted her once and told her again to get her drink. She unleashed her full furry. I picked her up under one arm, struggled out the door back through the restaurant, leaned her against the car until I could unlock the door, swatted her some more and put her writhing body in the car seat. She kicked and screamed the whole way. Even the other children ran away.

It wasn’t pretty. I was livid that she would behave that way. And I was thirsty. My drink sat there smiling back at me from inside the play place. I wanted to cry. I called Brandon. He chewed Gracie out and promised a spanking when he got home from work. Then we drove away with Gracie screaming she wanted her “Strite.”

As much as I disliked the attention we did get; I was upset. There were other moms in the restaurant. A lot of other moms all sitting together and chatting while their kids played. I wanted so bad for one of them to help me. To come get the door I was dragging kids through. Maybe even offer to carry Skeet. To bring our drinks out for us. But they didn’t. I don’t know maybe their conversation was so deep they never noticed the chaos. Maybe they sat there talking about that horrible child for 20 minutes after we left. But they sure didn’t help.

On the other hand I had a completely different experience this week at the grocery store. We left the house pretty early to get our shopping done before the store was crowded and the kids were tired. Gracie carried her “wist” all through the store and told several people she was shopping and “I gonna be Dora when I grow up.” She did great. Skeet did too. But even when your kids are well behaved sometimes your hands are just too full.

As I paid I heard Gracie complaining that her coat wasn’t zipped. I was already trying to figure out how to zip it while holding Skeet and the other things I had in my hands; when a cashier walked by, stooped down and zipped up the coat. Then she gave Gracie a balloon and visited with her while I finished up the transaction. It was awesome! Even the sweet man that carried our food to the car helped hold onto the balloon so it wouldn’t get away.

Two different days. Two very different scenarios. The first day I felt defeated and unnoticed as a mom. The second day I was encouraged. Real help. Not just an old cliche about kids being kids, or how we’ve all been there. Help.

So from now on, whenever I am able to offer another hand; I will. And I hope you will too.